Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scientists Crack Code For Motor Neuron Wiring
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers have deciphered a key part of the regulatory code that governs how motor neurons in the spinal cord connect to specific target muscles in the limbs. The researchers said that understanding this code may help guide progress in restoring motor neuron function in people whose spinal cords have been damaged by trauma or disease. The studies suggest that the code — which involves members of the family of transcription factors encoded by the Hox genes — could also govern the establishment of other spinal cord circuits. This circuitry includes interneurons that control motor neuron firing patterns and sensory neurons that transmit feedback information on muscle action.