Development of the facial and hypoglossal motor nuclei in the neonatal Brazilian opossum brain

Jack J. Swanson, M. Cathleen Kuehl-Kovarik, Joel K. Elmquist, Donald S. Sakaguchi, Carol D. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The development of the facial and hypoglossal motor nuclei were examined in the neonatal Brazilian opossum (Monodelphis domestica), a marsupial in which postnatal central nervous system development has been well characterized. In this study, we utilized postnatal injection of the retrograde tracer cholera toxin subunit B (CtB) to characterize the formation of the facial and hypoglossal motor nuclei in the developing neonatal opossum brainstem. Injections of CtB were made into the cheek/lip region or tongue of opossum pups to retrogradely label the facial or hypoglossal motor nuclei, respectively. Following a 2 h survival time, facial motoneurons in newborn opossum pups (1 PN) exhibited CtB labeling, with their cell bodies localized near the developing cranial abducens nucleus. At 3 and 5 PN, following a 48 h survival time, CtB-labeled facial moroneurons were observed in and migrating to the region of the adult facial motor nucleus in the rostral medulla. Between 7 and 10 PN, almost all facial moroneurons had migrated to their destination within the facial motor nucleus. Hypoglossal motoneurons also exhibited CtB labeling from 1 PN; however, their cell bodies were localized within the hypoglossal motor nucleus at the earliest age examined. Double label studies, to examine guidance of facial motoneurons during migration, demonstrated that CtB-labeled facial motoneurons are in close proximity to vimentin-like immunostained radial glial fibers during migration. These results suggest: (1) migration of facial moroneurons to the facial motor nucleus is a postnatal event, (2) efferent projections from facial and hypoglossal moroneurons project into the peripheral region of their target muscles from the day of birth, and (3) facial motoneurons migrate to their destination in the brainstem thereafter, in close association with radial glial fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 5 1999


  • Brainstem
  • Cholera toxin subunit B
  • Migration
  • Monodelphis
  • Motoneuron
  • Motor neuron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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