Development and migration of the zebrafish rhombencephalic octavolateral efferent neurons. uri icon


  • In vertebrate animals, motor and sensory efferent neurons carry information from the central nervous system (CNS) to peripheral targets. These two types of efferent systems sometimes bear a close resemblance, sharing common segmental organization, axon pathways, and chemical messengers. Here, we focus on the development of the octavolateral efferent neurons (OENs) and their interactions with the closely-related facial branchiomotor neurons (FBMNs) in zebrafish. Using live-imaging approaches, we investigate the birth, migration, and projection patterns of OENs. We find that OENs are born in two distinct groups: a group of rostral efferent neurons (RENs) that arises in the fourth segment, or rhombomere (r4), of the hindbrain and a group of caudal efferent neurons (CENs) that arises in r5. Both RENs and CENs then migrate posteriorly through the hindbrain between 18 and 48?hrs postfertilization, alongside the r4-derived FBMNs. Like the FBMNs, migration of the r4-derived RENs depends on function of the segmental identity gene hoxb1a; unlike the FBMNs, however, both OEN populations move independently of prickle1b. Further, we investigate whether the previously described "pioneer" neuron that leads FBMN migration through the hindbrain is an r4-derived FBMN/REN or an r5-derived CEN. Our experiments verify that the pioneer is an r4-derived neuron and reaffirm its role in leading FBMN migration across the r4/5 border. In contrast, the r5-derived CENs migrate independently of the pioneer. Together, these results indicate that the mechanisms OENs use to navigate the hindbrain differ significantly from those employed by FBMNs.

publication date

  • September 1, 2020