Neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) are composed of a variety of sensory modalities, three of which are pain-sensing nociceptors, temperature-sensing thermoceptors, and itch-sensing pruriceptors. All these neurons are emerged from a common pool of embryonic DRG neurons that are marked by the expression of the neurotrophin receptor TrkA. Here we discuss how intrinsic transcription factors interface with target-derived signals to specify these functionally distinct sensory neurons. We will also discuss how this control mechanism provides a developmental perspective for the coding of somatic sensations.
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