Zebrafish dorsal root ganglia neural precursor cells adopt a glial fate in the absence of neurogenin1

Hillary F. McGraw, Alexei Nechiporuk, David W. Raible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The proneural transcription factor neurogenin 1 (neurog1) has been shown to be a key regulator of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron development. Here we use a novel transgenic zebrafish line to demonstrate that the neural crest population that gives rise to DRG neurons becomes fate restricted to a neuronal/glial precursor before the onset of neurog1 function. We generated a stable transgenic zebrafish line that carries a modified bacterial artificial chromosome that expresses green fluorescent protein (GFP) under the control of the neurog1 promoter [Tg(neurog1:EGFP)]. In contrast to previously described neurog1 transgenic lines, Tg(neurog1:EGFP) expresses GFP in DRG neuronal precursors cells as they migrate ventrally and after their initial differentiation as neurons. Using this line, we are able to track the fate of DRG neuronal precursor cells during their specification. When Neurog1 function is blocked, either by neurog1 morpholino antisense oligonucleotide injection or in neurog1 mutants, GFP expression initiates in neural crest cells, although they fail to form DRG neurons. Rather, these cells take on a glial-like morphology, retain proliferative capacity, and express glial markers and become associated with the ventral motor root. These results suggest that, within the zebrafish neural crest, there is a fate-restricted lineage that is limited to form either sensory neurons or glia in the developing DRG. Neurog1 acts as the key factor in this lineage to direct the formation of sensory neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12558-12569
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number47
StatePublished - Nov 19 2008


  • Dorsal root ganglia
  • Fate restriction
  • Glia
  • Neural crest
  • Neurogenin 1
  • Sensory neuron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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