Characterization of transgenic mouse lines for selectively targeting satellite glial cells and macrophages in dorsal root ganglia

PLoS One. 2020 Sep 11;15(9):e0229475. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0229475. eCollection 2020.


The importance of glial cells in the modulation of neuronal processes is now generally accepted. In particular, enormous progress in our understanding of astrocytes and microglia physiology in the central nervous system (CNS) has been made in recent years, due to the development of genetic and molecular toolkits. However, the roles of satellite glial cells (SGCs) and macrophages-the peripheral counterparts of astrocytes and microglia-remain poorly studied despite their involvement in debilitating conditions, such as pain. Here, we characterized in dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), different genetically-modified mouse lines previously used for studying astrocytes and microglia, with the goal to implement them for investigating DRG SGC and macrophage functions. Although SGCs and astrocytes share some molecular properties, most tested transgenic lines were found to not be suitable for studying selectively a large number of SGCs within DRGs. Nevertheless, we identified and validated two mouse lines: (i) a CreERT2 recombinase-based mouse line allowing transgene expression almost exclusively in SGCs and in the vast majority of SGCs, and (ii) a GFP-expressing line allowing the selective visualization of macrophages. In conclusion, among the tools available for exploring astrocyte functions, a few can be used for studying selectively a great proportion of SGCs. Thus, efforts remain to be made to characterize other available mouse lines as well as to develop, rigorously characterize and validate new molecular tools to investigate the roles of DRG SGCs, but also macrophages, in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intravital Microscopy / methods
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Animal*
  • Molecular Probes / chemistry
  • Molecular Probes / genetics
  • Optical Imaging
  • Photons
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • Satellite Cells, Perineuronal / physiology*


  • Molecular Probes

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a starting grant (Chair of Excellence) from the Foundation Ecole des Neuroscience de Paris (ENP), a European Marie Skłodowska-Curie career integration grant (# 334497), a DIM Cerveau & Pensée-Région Ile-de-France grant, as well as CNRS and Paris Descartes University financial support to CA. YR and EM were recipients of PhD fellowships from the French Ministry of Research, and BR received a PhD fellowship from the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement (# 66585). YR was awarded a master 2 fellowship from the Institute of Neuroscience and Cognition. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.