Nuclear organization in the spinal cord depends on motor neuron lamination orchestrated by catenin and afadin function


  • C. Dewitz
  • S. Pimpinella
  • P. Hackel
  • A. Akalin
  • T.M. Jessell
  • N. Zampieri


  • Cell Reports


  • Cell Rep 22 (7): 1681-1694


  • Motor neurons in the spinal cord are found grouped in nuclear structures termed pools, whose position is precisely orchestrated during development. Despite the emerging role of pool organization in the assembly of spinal circuits, little is known about the morphogenetic programs underlying the patterning of motor neuron subtypes. We applied three-dimensional analysis of motor neuron position to reveal the roles and contributions of cell adhesive function by inactivating N-cadherin, catenin, and afadin signaling. Our findings reveal that nuclear organization of motor neurons is dependent on inside-out positioning, orchestrated by N-cadherin, catenin, and afadin activities, controlling cell body layering on the medio-lateral axis. In addition to this lamination-like program, motor neurons undergo a secondary, independent phase of organization. This process results in segregation of motor neurons along the dorso-ventral axis of the spinal cord, does not require N-cadherin or afadin activity, and can proceed even when medio-lateral positioning is perturbed.