An atoh1 cre knock-in mouse labels motor neurons involved in fine motor control

Osita W. Ogujiofor, Iliodora V. Pop, Felipe Espinosa, Razaq O. Durodoye, Michael L. Viacheslavov, Rachel Jarvis, Mark A. Landy, Channabasavaiah B. Gurumurthy, Helen C. Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Motor neurons (MNs) innervating the digit muscles of the intrinsic hand (IH) and intrinsic foot (IF) control fine motor movements. The ability to reproducibly label specifically IH and IF MNs in mice would be a beneficial tool for studies focused on fine motor control. To this end, we find that a CRE knock-in mouse line of Atoh1, a developmentally expressed basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, reliably expresses CRE-de-pendent reporter genes in;60% of the IH and IF MNs. We determine that CRE-dependent expression in IH and IF MNs is ectopic because an Atoh1 mouse line driving FLPo recombinase does not label these MNs although other Atoh1-lineage neurons in the intermediate spinal cord are reliably identified. Furthermore, the CRE-dependent reporter expression is enriched in the IH and IF MN pools with much sparser labeling of other limb-innervating MN pools such as the tibialis anterior (TA), gastrocnemius (GS), quadricep (Q), and adductor (Ad). Lastly, we find that ectopic reporter expression begins postnatally and labels a mixture of a and g-MNs. Altogether, the Atoh1 CRE knock-in mouse strain might be a useful tool to explore the function and connectiv-ity of MNs involved in fine motor control when combined with other genetic or viral strategies that can restrict labeling specifically to the IH and IF MNs. Accordingly, we provide an example of sparse labeling of IH and IF MNs using an intersectional genetic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberENEURO.0221-20.2021
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Atoh1
  • Fine motor control
  • Motor neurons
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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