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The neuronal networks that generate vertebrate movements such as walking and swimming are embedded in the spinal cord. These networks, which are referred to as central pattern generators (CPGs), are ideal systems for determining how ensembles of neurons generate simple behavioural outputs. In spite of efforts to address the organization of the locomotor CPG in walking animals, little is known about the identity and function of the spinal interneuron cell types that contribute to these locomotor networks. Here we use four complementary genetic approaches to directly address the function of mouse V1 neurons, a class of local circuit inhibitory interneurons that selectively express the transcription factor Engrailed1. Our results show that V1 neurons shape motor outputs during locomotion and are required for generating 'fast' motor bursting. These findings outline an important role for inhibition in regulating the frequency of the locomotor CPG rhythm, and also suggest that V1 neurons may have an evolutionarily conserved role in controlling the speed of vertebrate locomotor movements.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/nature04545

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nature

Publication Date

09/03/2006

Volume

440

Pages

215 - 219

Keywords

Action Potentials, Animals, Eye Proteins, Gene Deletion, Homeodomain Proteins, Interneurons, Locomotion, Mice, Motor Neurons, Paired Box Transcription Factors, Receptors, Neuropeptide, Repressor Proteins, Spinal Cord, Time Factors, Transgenes, Walking