Nat Commun 12 (1) 1026 [2021-02-15; online 2021-02-15]
Proprioceptive neurons (PNs) are essential for the proper execution of all our movements by providing muscle sensory feedback to the central motor network. Here, using deep single cell RNAseq of adult PNs coupled with virus and genetic tracings, we molecularly identify three main types of PNs (Ia, Ib and II) and find that they segregate into eight distinct subgroups. Our data unveil a highly sophisticated organization of PNs into discrete sensory input channels with distinct spatial distribution, innervation patterns and molecular profiles. Altogether, these features contribute to finely regulate proprioception during complex motor behavior. Moreover, while Ib- and II-PN subtypes are specified around birth, Ia-PN subtypes diversify later in life along with increased motor activity. We also show Ia-PNs plasticity following exercise training, suggesting Ia-PNs are important players in adaptive proprioceptive function in adult mice.