Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurones transmit cutaneous sensory information from the periphery to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. Subpopulations of DRG neurones that subserve distinct sensory modalities project to discrete regions in the dorsal horn. The formation of specific sensory connections during development may involve cell-surface interactions with spinal cord cells. Molecules that are expressed on the surface of functional subpopulations of DRG and dorsal horn neurones have therefore been identified. Distinct subsets of DRG neurones express globo- or lactoseries carbohydrate differentiation antigens. The expression of defined carbohydrate structures correlates with the embryonic lineage, peptide phenotype and the central termination site of DRG neurones. Similar or identical glycoconjugates have been implicated in cellular interactions that contribute to preimplantation embryonic development. Small-diameter DRG neurones that project to the superficial dorsal horn express N-acetyllactosamine backbone structures that are potential ligands for beta-galactoside-specific binding proteins (lectins). Two lectins have been identified that are expressed early in development in the superficial dorsal horn. These complementary molecules may contribute to the development of sensory afferent projections in the spinal cord.

This content is only available via PDF.