Spinal neurons innervating multiple local and distant motor pools

Remi Ronzano, Camille Lancelin, Gardave S. Bhumbra, Robert M. Brownstone, Marco Beato
. 2021-06-03; :
DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.03.446906

AbstractMotor neurons control muscle contractions, and their recruitment by premotor circuits is tuned to produce accurate motor behaviours. To understand how these circuits coordinate movement across and between joints, it is necessary to understand whether spinal neurons pre-synaptic to motor pools, project to more than one motor neuron population. Here, we used modified rabies virus tracing in mice to investigate premotor INs projecting to synergist flexor or extensor motor neurons, as well as those projecting to antagonist pairs of muscles controlling the ankle joint. We show that similar proportions of premotor neurons diverge to agonist and antagonist motor pools. Divergent premotor neurons were seen throughout the spinal cord, with decreasing numbers but increasing proportion with distance from the hindlimb enlargement. In the cervical cord, divergent long descending propriospinal neurons were found in contralateral lamina VIII, had large somata, were excitatory, projected to both lumbar and cervical motoneurons, and were at least in part of the V0 class. We conclude that distributed spinal premotor neurons coordinate activity across multiple motor pools and that there are spinal neurons mediating co-contraction of antagonist muscles.

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