Background: In the fly's visual motion pathways, two cell types-T4 and T5-are the first known relay neurons to signal small-field direction-selective motion responses . These cells then feed into large tangential cells that signal wide-field motion. Recent studies have identified two types of columnar neurons in the second neuropil, or medulla, that relay input to T4 from L1, the ON-channel neuron in the first neuropil, or lamina, thus providing a candidate substrate for the elementary motion detector (EMD) . Interneurons relaying the OFF channel from L1's partner, L2, to T5 are so far not known, however.
Results: Here we report that multiple types of transmedulla (Tm) neurons provide unexpectedly complex inputs to T5 at their terminals in the third neuropil, or lobula. From the L2 pathway, single-column input comes from Tm1 and Tm2 and multiple-column input from Tm4 cells. Additional input to T5 comes from Tm9, the medulla target of a third lamina interneuron, L3, providing a candidate substrate for L3's combinatorial action with L2 . Most numerous, Tm2 and Tm9's input synapses are spatially segregated on T5's dendritic arbor, providing candidate anatomical substrates for the two arms of a T5 EMD circuit; Tm1 and Tm2 provide a second. Transcript profiling indicates that T5 expresses both nicotinic and muscarinic cholinoceptors, qualifying T5 to receive cholinergic inputs from Tm9 and Tm2, which both express choline acetyltransferase (ChAT).
Conclusions: We hypothesize that T5 computes small-field motion signals by integrating multiple cholinergic Tm inputs using nicotinic and muscarinic cholinoceptors.
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