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Pain and itch processing by subpopulations of molecularly diverse spinal and trigeminal projection neurons.

  • Author(s): Wercberger, Racheli;
  • Braz, Joao M;
  • Weinrich, Jarret A;
  • Basbaum, Allan I
  • et al.
Abstract

A remarkable molecular and functional heterogeneity of the primary sensory neurons and dorsal horn interneurons transmits pain- and or itch-relevant information, but the molecular signature of the projection neurons that convey the messages to the brain is unclear. Here, using retro-TRAP (translating ribosome affinity purification) and RNA sequencing, we reveal extensive molecular diversity of spino- and trigeminoparabrachial projection neurons. Among the many genes identified, we highlight distinct subsets of Cck+ -, Nptx2+ -, Nmb+ -, and Crh+ -expressing projection neurons. By combining in situ hybridization of retrogradely labeled neurons with Fos-based assays, we also demonstrate significant functional heterogeneity, including both convergence and segregation of pain- and itch-provoking inputs into molecularly diverse subsets of NK1R- and non-NK1R-expressing projection neurons.

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