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J Comp Neurol. 2020 Jan 16. doi: 10.1002/cne.24857. [Epub ahead of print]

Distributions of hypothalamic neuron populations co-expressing tyrosine hydroxylase and the vesicular GABA transporter in the mouse.

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UTEP Systems Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, and Border Biomedical Research Center, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas, USA.
Department of Neuroscience, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Section Cellular Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.


The hypothalamus contains catecholaminergic neurons marked by the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). As multiple chemical messengers coexist in each neuron, we determined if hypothalamic TH-immunoreactive (ir) neurons express vesicular glutamate or GABA transporters. We used Cre/loxP recombination to express enhanced GFP (EGFP) in neurons expressing the vesicular glutamate (vGLUT2) or GABA transporter (vGAT), then determined whether TH-ir neurons colocalized with native EGFPVglut2 - or EGFPVgat -fluorescence, respectively. EGFPVglut2 neurons were not TH-ir. However, discrete TH-ir signals colocalized with EGFPVgat neurons, which we validated by in situ hybridization for Vgat mRNA. To contextualize the observed pattern of colocalization between TH-ir and EGFPVgat , we first performed Nissl-based parcellation and plane-of-section analysis, and then mapped the distribution of TH-ir EGFPVgat neurons onto atlas templates from the Allen Reference Atlas (ARA) for the mouse brain. TH-ir EGFPVgat neurons were distributed throughout the rostrocaudal extent of the hypothalamus. Within the ARA ontology of gray matter regions, TH-ir neurons localized primarily to the periventricular hypothalamic zone, periventricular hypothalamic region, and lateral hypothalamic zone. There was a strong presence of EGFPVgat fluorescence in TH-ir neurons across all brain regions, but the most striking colocalization was found in a circumscribed portion of the zona incerta (ZI)-a region assigned to the hypothalamus in the ARA-where every TH-ir neuron expressed EGFPVgat . Neurochemical characterization of these ZI neurons revealed that they display immunoreactivity for dopamine but not dopamine β-hydroxylase. Collectively, these findings indicate the existence of a novel mouse hypothalamic population that may signal through the release of GABA and/or dopamine. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


GABA; atlas; catecholamine; dopamine; hypothalamus; tyrosine hydroxylase; zona incerta


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