Laminar Localization and Projection-Specific Properties of Presubicular Neurons Targeting the Lateral Mammillary Nucleus, Thalamus, or Medial Entorhinal Cortex

eNeuro. 2017 May 15;4(2):ENEURO.0370-16.2017. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0370-16.2017. eCollection 2017 Mar-Apr.


The presubiculum (PrS) is part of an interconnected network of distributed brain regions where individual neurons signal the animals heading direction. PrS sends axons to medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), it is reciprocally connected with anterior thalamic nuclei (ATNs), and it sends feedback projections to the lateral mammillary nucleus (LMN), involved in generating the head direction signal. The intrinsic properties of projecting neurons will influence the pathway-specific transmission of activity. Here, we used projection-specific labeling of presubicular neurons to identify MEC-, LMN-, and ATN-projecting neurons in mice. MEC-projecting neurons located in superficial layers II/III were mostly regular spiking pyramidal neurons, and we also identified a Martinotti-type GABAergic neuron. The cell bodies of LMN-projecting neurons were located in a well-delimited area in the middle portion of the PrS, which corresponds to layer IV. The physiology of LMN projecting, pyramidal neurons stood out with a tendency to fire in bursts of action potentials (APs) with rapid onset. These properties may be uniquely adapted to reliably transmit visual landmark information with short latency to upstream LMN. Neurons projecting to ATN were located in layers V/VI, and they were mostly regular spiking pyramidal neurons. Unsupervised cluster analysis of intrinsic properties suggested distinct physiological features for the different categories of projection neurons, with some similarities between MEC- and ATN-projecting neurons. Projection-specific subpopulations may serve separate functions in the PrS and may be engaged differently in transmitting head direction related information.

Keywords: cell morphology; electrical properties; head direction; patch clamp; postsubiculum; retrograde tracing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology*
  • Entorhinal Cortex / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / genetics
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Lysine / metabolism
  • Mammillary Bodies / cytology
  • Mammillary Bodies / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Thalamus / cytology*
  • Thalamus / metabolism


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase
  • glutamate decarboxylase 1
  • biocytin
  • Lysine