The paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus in mammals coordinates neuroendocrine, autonomic and behavioral responses pivotal for homeostasis and the stress response. A large amount of studies in rodents has documented that the PVN contains diverse neuronal cell types which can be identified by the expression of distinct secretory neuropeptides. Interestingly, PVN cell types often coexpress multiple neuropeptides whose relative coexpression levels are subject to environment-induced plasticity. Due to their small size and transparency, zebrafish larvae offer the possibility to comprehensively study the development and plasticity of the PVN in large groups of intact animals, yet important anatomical information about the larval zebrafish PVN-homologous region has been missing. Therefore we recently defined the location and borders of the larval neurosecretory preoptic area (NPO) as the PVN-homologous region in larval zebrafish based on transcription factor expression and cell type clustering. To identify distinct cell types present in the larval NPO, we also generated a comprehensive 3D map of 9 zebrafish homologs of typical neuropeptides found in the mammalian PVN (arginine vasopressin (AVP), corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), proenkephalin a (penka)/b (penkb), neurotensin (NTS), oxytocin (OXT), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), cholecystokinin (CCK), and somatostatin (SST)). Here we extend this chemoarchitectural map to include the degrees of coexpression of two neuropeptides in the same cell by performing systematic pairwise comparisons. Our results allowed the subclassification of NPO cell types, and differences in variability of coexpression profiles suggest potential targets of biochemical plasticity. Thus, this work provides an important basis for the analysis of the development, function, and plasticity of the primary neuroendocrine brain region in larval zebrafish.
Keywords: coexpression; hypothalamus; neuroendocrine system; paraventricular nucleus; preoptic region; zebrafish.