The cellular basis of mechanosensation in mammalian tongue

Yalda Moayedi, Shan Xu, Sophie K. Obayashi, Benjamin U. Hoffman, Gregory J. Gerling, Ellen A. Lumpkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mechanosensory neurons that innervate the tongue provide essential information to guide feeding, speech, and social grooming. We use in vivo calcium imaging of mouse trigeminal ganglion neurons to identify functional groups of mechanosensory neurons innervating the anterior tongue. These sensory neurons respond to thermal and mechanical stimulation. Analysis of neuronal activity patterns reveal that most mechanosensory trigeminal neurons are tuned to detect moving stimuli across the tongue. Using an unbiased, multilayer hierarchical clustering approach to classify pressure-evoked activity based on temporal response dynamics, we identify five functional classes of mechanosensory neurons with distinct force-response relations and adaptation profiles. These populations are tuned to detect different features of touch. Molecular markers of functionally distinct clusters are identified by analyzing cluster representation in genetically marked neuronal subsets. Collectively, these studies provide a platform for defining the contributions of functionally distinct mechanosensory neurons to oral behaviors crucial for survival in mammals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112087
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 28 2023


  • CP: Neuroscience
  • calcium imaging
  • clustering analysis
  • functional classification
  • lingual innervation
  • mechanosensation
  • peripheral nervous system
  • somatosensation
  • tongue
  • trigeminal ganglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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