• BDNF;
  • cranial ganglia;
  • maturation;
  • gustatory;
  • placode;
  • neural crest;
  • neuron;
  • mouse;
  • cre recombinase;
  • fate mapping;
  • ROSA reporter line


In mice, BDNF provided by the developing taste epithelium is required for gustatory neuron survival following target innervation. However, we find that expression of BDNF, as detected by BDNF-driven β-galactosidase, begins in the cranial ganglia before its expression in the central (hindbrain) or peripheral (taste papillae) targets of these sensory neurons, and before gustatory ganglion cells innervate either target. To test early BDNF function, we examined the ganglia of bdnf null mice before target innervation, and found that while initial neuron survival is unaltered, early neuron development is disrupted. In addition, fate mapping analysis in mice demonstrates that murine cranial ganglia arise from two embryonic populations, i.e., epibranchial placodes and neural crest, as has been described for these ganglia in non-mammalian vertebrates. Only placodal neurons produce BDNF, however, which indicates that prior to innervation, early ganglionic BDNF produced by placode-derived cells promotes gustatory neuron development. Developmental Dynamics 240:309–323, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.