The sensory thalamus and visual midbrain in mouse lemurs

J Comp Neurol. 2019 Oct 15;527(15):2599-2611. doi: 10.1002/cne.24693. Epub 2019 Apr 8.


Mouse lemurs are the smallest of extant primates and are thought to resemble early primates in many ways. We provide histological descriptions of the major sensory nuclei of the dorsal thalamus and the superior colliculus (SC) of mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus). The dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus has the six layers typical of strepsirrhine primates, with matching pairs of magnocellular, parvocellular, and koniocellular layers, one of each pair for each eye. Unlike most primates, magnocellular and parvocellular layers exhibit only small differences in cell size. All layers express vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2), reflecting terminations of retinal inputs, and the expression of VGLUT2 is much less dense in the koniocellular layers. Parvalbumin is densely expressed in all layers, while SMI-32 is densely expressed only in the magnocellular layers. The adjoining pulvinar complex has a posterior nucleus with strong VGLUT2 expression, reflecting terminations from the SC. The SC is laminated with dense expression of VGLUT2 in the upper superficial gray layer, reflecting terminations from the retina. The ventral (MGNv), medial, and dorsal divisions of the medial geniculate complex are only moderately differentiated, although patches of dense VGLUT2 expression are found along the outer border of MGNv. The ventroposterior nucleus has darkly stained cells in Nissl stained sections, and narrow septa separating patchy regions of dense VGLUT2 expression that likely represent different body parts. Overall, these structures resemble those in other strepsirrhine primates, although they are smaller, with the sensory nuclei appearing to occupy proportionately more of the dorsal thalamus than in larger primates.

Keywords: RRID:AB_2313581; lateral geniculate nucleus; medial geniculate nucleus; primates; prosimian; pulvinar; strepsirrhine; ventroposterior nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cheirogaleidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Superior Colliculi / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*