The dorsal ramus nerve diverges dorsally from each spinal nerve to innervate the epaxial muscle and dermis that are derived in situ from each dermamyotome. The outgrowth of both the sensory and motor components of this nerve are sensitive to the proximity of the dermamyotome. Motoneurons display a direct target response that is not dependent upon the concurrent outgrowth of sensory neurites (Tosney: Dev. Biol. 122:540–588, 1987). Likewise, the outgrowth of sensory neurites could be directly dependent on the dermamyotome. Alternatively, sensory neurites could be dependent on motor axons that in turn require the dermamyotome for outgrowth. To distinguish between these possibilities, motor outgrowth was abolished by unilateral ventral neural tube deletion and the patterns of subsequent sensory neurite outgrowth were assessed. The cutaneous nerve branch formed in all cases. In contrast, neither of the epaxial muscle nerves formed in the absence of epaxial motoneuron outgrowth. Furthermore, sensory neurites could not be detected diverging into muscle from the cutaneous nerve or entering muscle via other novel routes. We conclude that motoneurons are essential for sensory outgrowth to epaxial muscle but not to cutaneous targets. It is clear that different subsets of navigational cues guide sensory afferents to muscle and to cutaneous destinations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology