Shh signaling guides spatial pathfinding of raphespinal tract axons by multidirectional repulsion

Cell Res. 2012 Apr;22(4):697-716. doi: 10.1038/cr.2011.172. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Abstract

Relatively little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying spatial pathfinding in the descending serotonergic raphespinal tract (RST) in the developing spinal cord, one of the most important nerve pathways for pain, sensory and motor functions. We provide evidence that ventral floor plate-secreted Sonic hedgehog (Shh) is responsible for the establishment of decreasing gradients in both the anterior-to-posterior (A-P) and the medial-to-lateral (M-L) directions in the ventral spinal cord during serotonergic RST axon projection. Downstream components of the Shh pathway, Patched 1 (Ptch1) and Smoothened (Smo), were expressed in the serotonergic caudal raphe nuclei and enriched in the descending serotonergic RST axons. Diffusible Shh repulsion of serotonergic RST axons was shown to be mediated by Shh-Ptch1 interactions and derepression of Smo. Using a co-culture assay, we showed that A-P graded repulsion mediated by Shh signaling pushed the serotonergic axons caudally through the ventral spinal cord and M-L graded repulsion mediated by Shh signaling simultaneously restricted the serotonergic axons to the ventral and ventral-lateral funiculus. Prominent pathfinding errors of serotonergic RST axons were observed in various Shh, Ptch1 and Smo mutants. We conclude that Shh signaling-mediated multidirectional repulsion is required to push descending serotonergic RST axons in the A-P direction, and to restrict these axons to the ventral and ventral-lateral funiculus in the M-L direction. This is the first demonstration that Shh signaling-mediated multidirectional repulsion of serotonergic RST axons maintains spatial axon pathfinding in the developing spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Axons / physiology
  • COS Cells
  • Caudate Nucleus / embryology
  • Caudate Nucleus / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Hedgehog Proteins / genetics
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutation
  • Patched Receptors
  • Patched-1 Receptor
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Serotonergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Serotonergic Neurons / physiology
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Smoothened Receptor
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Spinal Cord / growth & development*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway

Substances

  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Patched Receptors
  • Patched-1 Receptor
  • Ptch1 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Shh protein, mouse
  • Smo protein, mouse
  • Smoothened Receptor