Smoothened overexpression causes trochlear motoneurons to reroute and innervate ipsilateral eyes

pubmed: wnt1 2021-05-07

Cell Tissue Res. 2021 Apr;384(1):59-72. doi: 10.1007/s00441-020-03352-0. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


The trochlear projection is unique among the cranial nerves in that it exits the midbrain dorsally to innervate the contralateral superior oblique muscle in all vertebrates. Trochlear as well as oculomotor motoneurons uniquely depend upon Phox2a and Wnt1, both of which are downstream of Lmx1b, though why trochlear motoneurons display such unusual projections is not fully known. We used Pax2-cre to drive expression of ectopically activated Smoothened (SmoM2) dorsally in the midbrain and anterior hindbrain. We documented the expansion of oculomotor and trochlear motoneurons using Phox2a as a specific marker at E9.5. We show that the initial expansion follows a demise of these neurons by E14.5. Furthermore, SmoM2 expression leads to a ventral exit and ipsilateral projection of trochlear motoneurons. We compare that data with Unc5c mutants that shows a variable ipsilateral number of trochlear fibers that exit dorsal. Our data suggest that Shh signaling is involved in trochlear motoneuron projections and that the deflected trochlear projections after SmoM2 expression is likely due to the dorsal expression of Gli1, which impedes the normal dorsal trajectory of these neurons.

PMID:33409653 | DOI:10.1007/s00441-020-03352-0