Genetically Distinct Parallel Pathways in the Entopeduncular Nucleus for Limbic and Sensorimotor Output of the Basal Ganglia

Neuron. 2017 Apr 5;94(1):138-152.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.017.


The basal ganglia (BG) integrate inputs from diverse sensorimotor, limbic, and associative regions to guide action-selection and goal-directed behaviors. The entopeduncular nucleus (EP) is a major BG output nucleus and has been suggested to channel signals from distinct BG nuclei to target regions involved in diverse functions. Here we use single-cell transcriptional and molecular analyses to demonstrate that the EP contains at least three classes of projection neurons-glutamate/GABA co-releasing somatostatin neurons, glutamatergic parvalbumin neurons, and GABAergic parvalbumin neurons. These classes comprise functionally and anatomically distinct output pathways that differentially affect EP target regions, such as the lateral habenula (LHb) and thalamus. Furthermore, LHb- and thalamic-projecting EP neurons are differentially innervated by subclasses of striatal and pallidal neurons. Therefore, we identify previously unknown subdivisions within the EP and reveal the existence of cascading, molecularly distinct projections through striatum and globus pallidus to EP targets within epithalamus and thalamus.

Keywords: basal ganglia; co-release; entopeduncular nucleus; lateral habenula; single cell sequencing.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / cytology
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism*
  • Entopeduncular Nucleus / cytology
  • Entopeduncular Nucleus / metabolism*
  • GABAergic Neurons / cytology
  • GABAergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Globus Pallidus / cytology
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Habenula / cytology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Limbic System
  • Mice
  • Neostriatum / cytology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Parvalbumins / metabolism
  • Sensorimotor Cortex
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Somatostatin / metabolism
  • Thalamus / cytology


  • Parvalbumins
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Somatostatin