Molecular Characterization of Nodose Ganglia Development Reveals a Novel Population of Phox2b+ Glial Progenitors in Mice

J Neurosci. 2024 Jul 10;44(28):e1441232024. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1441-23.2024.


The vagal ganglia, comprised of the superior (jugular) and inferior (nodose) ganglia of the vagus nerve, receive somatosensory information from the head and neck or viscerosensory information from the inner organs, respectively. Developmentally, the cranial neural crest gives rise to all vagal glial cells and to neurons of the jugular ganglia, while the epibranchial placode gives rise to neurons of the nodose ganglia. Crest-derived nodose glial progenitors can additionally generate autonomic neurons in the peripheral nervous system, but how these progenitors generate neurons is unknown. Here, we found that some Sox10+ neural crest-derived cells in, and surrounding, the nodose ganglion transiently expressed Phox2b, a master regulator of autonomic nervous system development, during early embryonic life. Our genetic lineage-tracing analysis in mice of either sex revealed that despite their common developmental origin and extreme spatial proximity, a substantial proportion of glial cells in the nodose, but not in the neighboring jugular ganglia, have a history of Phox2b expression. We used single-cell RNA-sequencing to demonstrate that these progenitors give rise to all major glial subtypes in the nodose ganglia, including Schwann cells, satellite glia, and glial precursors, and mapped their spatial distribution by in situ hybridization. Lastly, integration analysis revealed transcriptomic similarities between nodose and dorsal root ganglia glial subtypes and revealed immature nodose glial subtypes. Our work demonstrates that these crest-derived nodose glial progenitors transiently express Phox2b, give rise to the entire complement of nodose glial cells, and display a transcriptional program that may underlie their bipotent nature.

Keywords: Phox2b; development; neural crest; nodose; peripheral glia; vagal ganglia.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Homeodomain Proteins* / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neural Crest* / cytology
  • Neural Crest* / metabolism
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neuroglia* / cytology
  • Neuroglia* / metabolism
  • Nodose Ganglion* / cytology
  • Nodose Ganglion* / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • Transcription Factors* / metabolism


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Phox2b protein, mouse