Because somatosensory PNS neurons, in particular nociceptors, are specially tuned to be able to detect a wide variety of both exogenous and endogenous signals, it is widely assumed that these neurons express a greater variety of receptor genes. Because cells detect such signals via cell surface receptors, we sought to formally test the hypothesis that PNS neurons might express a broader array of cell surface receptors than CNS neurons using existing single cell RNA sequencing resources from mouse. We focused our analysis on ion channels, G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRS), receptor tyrosine kinase and cytokine family receptors. In partial support of our hypothesis, we found that mouse PNS somatosensory, sympathetic and enteric neurons and CNS neurons have similar receptor expression diversity in families of receptors examined, with the exception of GPCRs and cytokine receptors which showed greater diversity in the PNS. Surprisingly, these differences were mostly driven by enteric and sympathetic neurons, not by somatosensory neurons or nociceptors. Secondary analysis revealed many receptors that are very specifically expressed in subsets of PNS neurons, including some that are unique among neurons for nociceptors. Finally, we sought to examine specific ligand-receptor interactions between T cells and PNS and CNS neurons. Again, we noted that most interactions between these cells are shared by CNS and PNS neurons despite the fact that T cells only enter the CNS under rare circumstances. Our findings demonstrate that both PNS and CNS neurons express an astonishing array of cell surface receptors and suggest that most neurons are tuned to receive signals from other cells types, in particular immune cells.
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