Carney, T.J., Dutton, K.A., Greenhill, E., Delfino-Machin, M., Dufourcq, P., Blader, P., and Kelsh, R.N. (2006) A direct role for Sox10 in specification of neural crest-derived sensory neurons. Development (Cambridge, England). 133(23):4619-4630.
sox10 is necessary for development of neural and pigment cell derivatives of the neural crest (NC). However, whereas a direct role for Sox10 activity has been established in pigment and glial lineages, this is more controversial in NC-derived sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia (DRGs). We proposed that sox10 functioned in specification of sensory neurons, whereas others suggested that sensory neuronal defects were merely secondary to absence of glia. Here we provide evidence that in zebrafish, early DRG sensory neuron survival is independent of differentiated glia. Critically, we demonstrate that Sox10 is expressed transiently in the sensory neuron lineage, and specifies sensory neuron precursors by regulating the proneural gene neurogenin1. Consistent with this, we have isolated a novel sox10 mutant that lacks glia and yet displays a neurogenic DRG phenotype. In conjunction with previous findings, these data establish the generality of our model of Sox10 function in NC fate specification.