Loss of Elp1 disrupts trigeminal ganglion neurodevelopment in a model of Familial Dysautonomia

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eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd


Familial dysautonomia (FD) is a sensory and autonomic neuropathy caused by mutations in elongator complex protein 1 (ELP1). FD patients have small trigeminal nerves and impaired facial pain and temperature perception. These signals are relayed by nociceptive neurons in the trigeminal ganglion, a structure that is composed of both neural crest- and placode-derived cells. Mice lacking Elp1 in neural crest derivatives (‘Elp1 CKO’) are born with small trigeminal ganglia, suggesting Elp1 is important for trigeminal ganglion development, yet the function of Elp1 in this context is unknown. We demonstrate that Elp1, expressed in both neural crest- and placode-derived neurons, is not required for initial trigeminal ganglion formation. However, Elp1 CKO trigeminal neurons exhibit abnormal axon outgrowth and deficient target innervation. Developing nociceptors expressing the receptor TrkA undergo early apoptosis in Elp1 CKO, while TrkB- and TrkC-expressing neurons are spared, indicating Elp1 supports the target innervation and survival of trigeminal nociceptors. Furthermore, we demonstrate that specific TrkA deficits in the Elp1 CKO trigeminal ganglion reflect the neural crest lineage of most TrkA neurons versus the placodal lineage of most TrkB and TrkC neurons. Altogether, these findings explain defects in cranial gangliogenesis that may lead to loss of facial pain and temperature sensation in FD.



Elp1, trigeminal ganglion neurodevelopment, dysautonomia


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