Molecular identity of proprioceptor subtypes innervating different muscle groups in mice


  • S. Dietrich
  • C. Company
  • K. Song
  • E.D. Lowenstein
  • L. Riedel
  • C. Birchmeier
  • G. Gargiulo
  • N. Zampieri


  • Nature Communications


  • Nat Commun 13 (1): 6867


  • The precise execution of coordinated movements depends on proprioception, the sense of body position in space. However, the molecular underpinnings of proprioceptive neuron subtype identities are not fully understood. Here we used a single-cell transcriptomic approach to define mouse proprioceptor subtypes according to the identity of the muscle they innervate. We identified and validated molecular signatures associated with proprioceptors innervating back (Tox, Epha3), abdominal (C1ql2), and hindlimb (Gabrg1, Efna5) muscles. We also found that proprioceptor muscle identity precedes acquisition of receptor character and comprise programs controlling wiring specificity. These findings indicate that muscle-type identity is a fundamental aspect of proprioceptor subtype differentiation that is acquired during early development and includes molecular programs involved in the control of muscle target specificity.