Single-cell RNA-seq reveals distinct injury responses in different types of DRG sensory neurons

Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 25;6:31851. doi: 10.1038/srep31851.


Peripheral nerve injury leads to various injury-induced responses in sensory neurons including physiological pain, neuronal cell death, and nerve regeneration. In this study, we performed single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) analysis of mouse nonpeptidergic nociceptors (NP), peptidergic nociceptors (PEP), and large myelinated sensory neurons (LM) under both control and injury conditions at 3 days after sciatic nerve transection (SNT). After performing principle component and weighted gene co-expression network analysis, we categorized dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons into different subtypes and discovered co-regulated injury-response genes including novel regeneration associated genes (RAGs) in association with neuronal development, protein translation and cytoplasm transportation. In addition, we found significant up-regulation of the genes associated with cell death such as Pdcd2 in a subset of NP neurons after axotomy, implicating their actions in neuronal cell death upon nerve injury. Our study revealed the distinctive and sustained heterogeneity of transcriptomic responses to injury at single neuron level, implicating the involvement of different gene regulatory networks in nerve regeneration, neuronal cell death and neuropathy in different population of DRG neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / genetics*
  • Peripheral Nerve Injuries / metabolism
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Rats
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods*
  • Single-Cell Analysis / methods*