Among most prevalent deficits in individuals with Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli and somatosensory alterations. Whether dysfunction in peripheral sensory system contributes to these deficits remains poorly understood. Satellite glial cells (SGCs), which envelop sensory neuron soma, play critical roles in regulating neuronal function and excitability. The potential contributions of SGCs to sensory deficits in FXS remain unexplored. Here we found major structural defects in sensory neuron-SGC association in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG), manifested by aberrant covering of the neuron and gaps between SGCs and the neuron along their contact surface. Single-cell RNAseq analyses demonstrated transcriptional changes in both neurons and SGCs, indicative of defects in neuronal maturation and altered SGC vesicular secretion. We validated these changes using fluorescence microscopy, qPCR, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in combination with computational analyses using deep learning networks. These results revealed a disrupted neuron-glia association at the structural and functional levels. Given the well-established role for SGCs in regulating sensory neuron function, altered neuron-glia association may contribute to sensory deficits in FXS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number796070
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 4 2022


  • fragile X syndrome
  • hyperexcitability
  • neuron-glia communication
  • satellite glial cells
  • sensory neuron


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