Lateral motor column axons execute a ternary trajectory choice between limb and body tissues

Luria, Victor; Laufer, Edward M.

Background: Neuronal topographic map formation requires appropriate selection of axonal trajectories at intermediate choice points prior to target innervation. Axons of neurons in the spinal cord lateral motor column (LMC), as defined by a transcription factor code, are thought to innervate limb target tissues exclusively. Axons of the medial and lateral LMC divisions appear to execute a binary decision at the base of the limb as they choose between ventral and dorsal limb trajectories. The cellular logic that guides motor axon trajectory choices into non-limb tissues such as the ventral flank remains unclear. Results: We determined the spinal cord motor column origin of motor nerves that innervate ventral flank tissues at hindlimb level. We found unexpectedly that a subset of medial LMC axons innervates ventral non-limb mesenchyme at hindlimb level, rather than entering ventral limb mesenchyme. We also found that in a conditional BmprIa mutant where all ventral hindlimb mesenchyme is converted to a dorsal identity, all medial LMC axons are redirected into the ventral flank, while lateral LMC axons innervate the bidorsal limb. Conclusion: We have found that medial LMC neurons innervate both ventral flank and limb targets. While normally only a subset of medial LMC axons innervate the flank, all are capable of doing so. Furthermore, LMC axons execute a ternary, rather than binary, choice at the base of the limb between ventral flank, ventral limb and dorsal limb trajectories. When making this choice, medial and lateral LMC axons exhibit different and asymmetric relative preferences for these three trajectories. These data redefine the LMC as a motor column that innervates both limb and body tissues.


  • thumnail for 1749-8104-2-13-S1.PNG 1749-8104-2-13-S1.PNG binary/octet-stream 1.07 MB Download File
  • thumnail for 1749-8104-2-13-S2.PNG 1749-8104-2-13-S2.PNG binary/octet-stream 2.31 MB Download File
  • thumnail for 1749-8104-2-13-S5.PNG 1749-8104-2-13-S5.PNG binary/octet-stream 2.71 MB Download File
  • thumnail for 1749-8104-2-13-S3.PNG 1749-8104-2-13-S3.PNG binary/octet-stream 1.65 MB Download File
  • thumnail for 1749-8104-2-13-S6.PNG 1749-8104-2-13-S6.PNG binary/octet-stream 1.61 MB Download File
  • thumnail for 1749-8104-2-13-S7.PNG 1749-8104-2-13-S7.PNG binary/octet-stream 2.72 MB Download File

Also Published In

Neural Development

More About This Work

Academic Units
Pathology and Cell Biology
Published Here
September 9, 2014