3 years ago

Relationships between neuronal birthdates and tonotopic position in the mouse cochlear nucleus

Austin R. Shepard, Jennifer L. Scheffel, Wei-Ming Yu


Tonotopy is a key anatomical feature of the vertebrate auditory system, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying its development. Since date of birth of a neuron correlates with tonotopic position in the cochlea, we investigated if it also correlates with tonotopic position in the cochlear nucleus. In the cochlea, spiral ganglion neurons are organized in a basal to apical progression along the length of the cochlea based on birthdates, with neurons in the base (responding to high‐frequency sounds) born early around mouse embryonic day (E) 9.5–10.5, and those in the apex (responding to low‐frequency sounds) born late around E12.5 to 13.5. Using a low‐dose thymidine analog incorporation assay, we examine whether cochlear nucleus neurons are arranged in a spatial gradient according to their birthdates. Most cochlear nucleus neurons are born between E10.5 to E13.5, with a peak at E12.5. A second wave of neuron birth was observed in the dorsal cochlear nucleus beginning on E14.5 and lasts until E18.5. Large excitatory neurons were born in the first wave and small local circuit neurons were born in the second. No spatial gradient of cell birth was observed in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. In contrast, neurons in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) were found to be arranged in a dorsal to ventral progression according to their birthdates, which is aligned with the tonotopic axis. Most of these AVCN neurons are endbulb‐innervated bushy cells. The correlation between birthdate and tonotopic position suggests testable mechanisms for specification of tonotopic position.

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