Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda developed a novel approach that targeted single nuclear RNA sequencing. It is used to identify an array of cholinergic interneurons that link the central nervous system to Neurons that connect to internal organs and skeletal muscles. These findings are published in the article in the journal Nature Communications.
Skeletal cholinergic motor Neurons include a subset that is susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Research into these diseases and other studies have hinted at the presence of additional subtypes within the basic known categories of spinal neurons and that some of these subtypes may be more vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases than others.
Le Pichon said that the study lays the groundwork for understanding these cell identities. By using the same approach to sequence motor Neurons in disease states, we will now be able to identify which subtypes classified in this study are most susceptible, and hopefully, identify the transcriptional drivers of this vulnerability.