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Normally unused position cues guide ectopic afferents in the leech cns

, : Normally unused position cues guide ectopic afferents in the leech cns. Journal of Neuroscience 11(12): 3868-3876

Central projections from peripheral sensory neurons segregate into distinct, ventrally positioned longitudinal tracts within the segmental ganglia of the leech Hirudo medicinalis. As documented here, there is an additional tract in the neuropils of the fifth and sixth body ganglia, located at the lateral margin and formed by afferent axons (the "sex afferents") originating from sensory neurons located in the male and female genitalia. Ablation of the genitalia results in the complete absence of this additional tract. We asked whether segmental differences exist in the distribution of pathway cues available to the sex afferents, and whether central pathway selection by these axons is specific. We transplanted the primordia of the male genitalia to several ectopic positions posterior to the sixth body segment and labeled the ectopic sex afferents in order to examine their paths in the CNS. In about 50% of the experimental animals, afferent axons originating in the transplanted tissue segregated into a distinct lateral fiber bundle within the neuropil of a nearby ganglion, in a position corresponding to their normal one in the sex ganglia. The sex afferents therefore find their normal pathways even in the ganglia of inappropriate segments, although these pathways are not used by any other afferents in these ganglia. We propose, therefore, that the positional cues employed by afferent axons to select appropriate pathways in the ganglionic neuropil are expressed in all segments of the leech CNS, regardless of whether such cues are normally used by afferent axons in each segment.


PMID: 1744695

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