Molecular characterization of nodose ganglia development reveals a novel population of Phox2b+ glial progenitors in mice

J Neurosci. 2024 Jun 3:e1441232024. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1441-23.2024. Online ahead of print.


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 (scRNA-seq) 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.Significance statement The nodose ganglia contain sensory neurons that innervate inner organs and play key roles in homeostatic behaviors like digestion, regulation of blood pressure and heart rate, and breathing. Nodose sensory neurons are supported by nodose glial cells, which are understudied compared to their neuronal neighbors. Specifically, the genetic program governing their development is not fully understood. Here, we uncover a transcriptional program unique to nodose glial cells (transient expression of Phox2b) that resolves the 40-year-old finding that nodose glial progenitors can also give rise to autonomic neurons (whose development depends on Phox2b expression). Lastly, we leveraged single cell RNA-sequencing to identify the four major subtypes of nodose glial cells and used subtype specific marker genes to map their spatial distribution.

PMID:38830761 | DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1441-23.2024