Taste buds are innervated by neurons whose cell bodies reside in cranial sensory ganglia. Studies on the functional properties and connectivity of these neurons are hindered by the lack of markers to define their molecular identities and classes. The mouse geniculate ganglion contains chemosensory neurons innervating lingual and palatal taste buds and somatosensory neurons innervating the pinna. Here, we report single cell RNA sequencing of geniculate ganglion neurons. Using unbiased transcriptome analyses, we show a pronounced separation between two major clusters which, by anterograde labeling, correspond to gustatory and somatosensory neurons. Among the gustatory neurons, three subclusters are present, each with its own complement of transcription factors and neurotransmitter response profiles. The smallest subcluster expresses both gustatory-and mechanosensory-related genes, suggesting a novel type of sensory neuron. We identify several markers to help dissect the functional distinctions among gustatory neurons and address questions regarding target interactions and taste coding.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)