Vibrissa sensory neurons: Linking distinct morphology to specific physiology and function.
Rodents use an array of long tactile facial hairs, the vibrissae, to locate and discriminate objects. Each vibrissa is densely innervated by multiple different types of trigeminal (TG) sensory neurons. Based on the sensory ending morphology, there are at least six types of vibrissa innervating neurons; whereas based on electrophysiological recordings, vibrissa neurons are generally classified as rapidly adapting (RA) and slowly adapting (SA), and show different responses to whisking movement and/or touch. There is a clear missing link between the morphologically defined neuronal types and their exact physiological properties and functions. We briefly summarize recent advances and consider single-cell transcriptome profiling, together with optogenetics-assisted in vivo electrophysiology, as a way to fill this major gap in our knowledge of the vibrissa sensory system.
Takatoh, J; Prevosto, V; Wang, F
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