Aziz Moqrich

20 avril 2012

IBDML, Marseille

Functional significance of nociceptive primary sensory neurons diversity

invité par Frédéric Brocard

Unravelling the precise in vivo function of a particular neuronal subpopulation is one of the most challenging issues in neurobiology. Nociceptive primary sensory neurons represent a powerful model system to address this fundamental question. These neurons convey a large cohort of perceptual sensory modalities including thermal, mechanical and chemical stimuli. Nociceptive neurons encompass an extremely heterogeneous population with respect to their morphological, anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular properties. In spite of the efforts, the functional significance of this remarkable diversity has remained elusive. We have designed a strategy aimed at expanding the molecular characterization of the nociceptive system by identifying new factors expressed in specific subsets of DRG neurons. My presentation, I will first highlight our contribution to the expansion of the repertoire of molecules defining discrete subsets of primary nociceptive neurons and then I will describe our original and multidisciplinary approach that combines genetic engineering, physiology and behaviour to explore the functional specialization of discrete subsets of nociceptive neurons. Results emanating from this work will provide hints on how a precise neuronal subtype is generated, how it matures and what kind of particular sensory modalities it perceives. In this respect, our work is pioneering in the field. If we know how a precise neuronal subtype is generated, we can subsequently analyse not only basic aspects of its physiology, but also more medically oriented aspects like its functional role under pathological conditions, its chronic changes in response to inflammation and analgesic treatments.
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