Molecular mechanisms underlying monosynaptic sensory-motor circuit development in the spinal cord

Dev Dyn. 2018 Apr;247(4):581-587. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.24611. Epub 2018 Jan 17.


Motor behaviors are precisely controlled by the integration of sensory and motor systems in the central nervous system (CNS). Proprioceptive sensory neurons, key components of the sensory system, are located in the dorsal root ganglia and project axons both centrally to the spinal cord and peripherally to muscles and tendons, communicating peripheral information about the body to the CNS. Changes in muscle length detected by muscle spindles, and tension variations in tendons conveyed by Golgi tendon organs, are communicated to the CNS through group Ia /II, and Ib proprioceptive sensory afferents, respectively. Group Ib proprioceptive sensory neurons connect with motor neurons indirectly through spinal interneurons, whereas group Ia/II axons form both direct (monosynaptic) and indirect connections with motor neurons. Although monosynaptic sensory-motor circuits between spindle proprioceptive sensory neurons and motor neurons have been extensively studied since 1950s, the molecular mechanisms underlying their formation and upkeep have only recently begun to be understood. We will discuss our current understanding of the molecular foundation of monosynaptic circuit development and maintenance involving proprioceptive sensory neurons and motor neurons in the mammalian spinal cord. Developmental Dynamics 247:581-587, 2018. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: axon; interneuron; motor neuron; muscle spindle; proprioceptive sensory neuron; spinal cord; synapse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Proprioception
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / growth & development
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*