Structure of Long-Range Direct and Indirect Spinocerebellar Pathways as Well as Local Spinal Circuits Mediating Proprioception

Iliodora V. Pop, Felipe Espinosa, Cheasequah J. Blevins, Portia C. Okafor, Osita W. Ogujiofor, Megan Goyal, Bishakha Mona, Mark A. Landy, Kevin M. Dean, Channabasavaiah B. Gurumurthy, Helen C. Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Proprioception, the sense of limb and body position, generates a map of the body that is essential for proper motor control, yet we know little about precisely how neurons in proprioceptive pathways are wired. Defining the anatomy of secondary neurons in the spinal cord that integrate and relay proprioceptive and potentially cutaneous information from the periphery to the cerebellum is fundamental to understanding how proprioceptive circuits function. Here, we define the unique anatomic trajectories of long-range direct and indirect spinocerebellar pathways as well as local intersegmental spinal circuits using genetic tools in both male and female mice. We find that Clarke’s column neurons, a major contributor to the direct spinocerebellar pathway, has mossy fiber terminals that diversify extensively in the cerebellar cortex with axons terminating bilaterally, but with no significant axon collaterals within the spinal cord, medulla, or cerebellar nuclei. By contrast, we find that two of the indirect pathways, the spino-lateral reticular nucleus and spino-olivary pathways, are in part, derived from cervical Atoh1-lineage neurons, whereas thoracolumbar Atoh1-lineage neurons project mostly locally within the spinal cord. Notably, while cervical and thoracolumbar Atoh1-lineage neurons connect locally with motor neurons, no Clarke’s column to motor neuron connections were detected. Together, we define anatomic differences between long-range direct, indirect, and local proprioceptive subcircuits that likely mediate different components of proprioceptive-motor behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-600
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 26 2022


  • Atoh1
  • Clarke’s column
  • cerebellum
  • proprioception
  • spinal cord
  • spinocerebellar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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