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DiI-labeling of DRG neurons to study axonal branching in a whole mount preparation of mouse embryonic spinal cord

Item Type:Article
Title:DiI-labeling of DRG neurons to study axonal branching in a whole mount preparation of mouse embryonic spinal cord
Creators Name:Schmidt, H. and Rathjen, F.G.
Abstract:Here we present a technique to label the trajectories of small groups of DRG neurons into the embryonic spinal cord by diffusive staining using the lipophilic tracer 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI). The comparison of axonal pathways of wild-type with those of mouse lines in which genes are mutated allows testing for a functional role of candidate proteins in the control of axonal branching which is an essential mechanism in the wiring of the nervous system. Axonal branching enables an individual neuron to connect with multiple targets, thereby providing the physical basis for the parallel processing of information. Ramifications at intermediate target regions of axonal growth may be distinguished from terminal arborization. Furthermore, different modes of axonal branch formation may be classified depending on whether branching results from the activities of the growth cone (splitting or delayed branching) or from the budding of collaterals from the axon shaft in a process called interstitial branching (Fig. 1). The central projections of neurons from the DRG offer a useful experimental system to study both types of axonal branching: when their afferent axons reach the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) of the spinal cord between embryonic days 10 to 13 (E10-E13) they display a stereotyped pattern of T- or Y-shaped bifurcation. The two resulting daughter axons then proceed in rostral or caudal directions, respectively, at the dorsolateral margin of the cord and only after a waiting period collaterals sprout from these stem axons to penetrate the gray matter (interstitial branching) and project to relay neurons in specific laminae of the spinal cord where they further arborize (terminal branching). DiI tracings have revealed growth cones at the dorsal root entry zone of the spinal cord that appeared to be in the process of splitting suggesting that bifurcation is caused by splitting of the growth cone itself (Fig. 2), however, other options have been discussed as well. This video demonstrates first how to dissect the spinal cord of E12.5 mice leaving the DRG attached. Following fixation of the specimen tiny amounts of DiI are applied to DRG using glass needles pulled from capillary tubes. After an incubation step, the labeled spinal cord is mounted as an inverted open-book preparation to analyze individual axons using fluorescence microscopy.
Keywords:Neuroscience, Neurons, Axonal Branching, DRG, Spinal Cord, DiI Labeling, cGMP Signaling, Animals, Mice
Source:Journal of Visualized Experiments
Publisher:JoVE (U.S.A.)
Page Range:e3667
Date:13 December 2011
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.3791/3667
PubMed:View item in PubMed

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