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Delineating the Organization of Projection Neuron Subsets with Multi-fluorescent Rabies Virus Tracing Tool

By Liang Li, Yajie Tang, Leqiang Sun, Jinsong Yu, Hui Gong, Hannah C. Webber, Xiaoyu Zhang, Zhe Hu, Xiangning Li, Khaista Rahman, Zhenfang Fu, Jinxia Dai, Gang Cao

Posted 16 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.16.877258

The elegant functions of the brain are facilitated by sophisticated connections between neurons, the architecture of which is frequently characterized by one nucleus connecting to multiple targets via projection neurons. Delineating the sub-nucleus fine architecture of projection neurons in a certain nucleus could greatly facilitate its circuit, computational, and functional resolution. Here, we developed multi-fluorescent rabies virus to delineate the fine organization of corticothalamic projection neuron subsets in the primary visual cortex (V1). By simultaneously labeling multiple distinct subsets of corticothalamic projection neurons in V1 from their target nuclei in thalamus (dLGN, LP, LD), we observed that V1-dLGN corticothalamic neurons were densely concentrated in layer VI, except for several sparsely scattered neurons in layer V, while V1-LP and V1-LD corticothalamic neurons were localized to both layers V and VI. Meanwhile, we observed a fraction of V1 corticothalamic neurons targeting multiple thalamic nuclei, which was further confirmed by fMOST whole-brain imaging. We further conceptually proposed an upgraded sub-nucleus tracing system with higher throughput (21 subsets) for more complex architectural tracing. The multi-fluorescent RV tracing tool can be extensively applied to resolve architecture of projection neuron subsets, with a strong potential to delineate the computational and functional organization of these nuclei.

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