Diverse GABAergic neurons organize into subtype-specific sublaminae in the ventral lateral geniculate nucleus

J Neurochem. 2021 Nov;159(3):479-497. doi: 10.1111/jnc.15101. Epub 2020 Jun 24.


In the visual system, retinal axons convey visual information from the outside world to dozens of distinct retinorecipient brain regions and organize that information at several levels, including either at the level of retinal afferents, cytoarchitecture of intrinsic retinorecipient neurons, or a combination of the two. Two major retinorecipient nuclei which are densely innervated by retinal axons are the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus, which is important for classical image-forming vision, and ventral LGN (vLGN), which is associated with non-image-forming vision. The neurochemistry, cytoarchitecture, and retinothalamic connectivity in vLGN remain unresolved, raising fundamental questions of how it receives and processes visual information. To shed light on these important questions, used in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and genetic reporter lines to identify and characterize novel neuronal cell types in mouse vLGN. Not only were a high percentage of these cells GABAergic, we discovered transcriptomically distinct GABAergic cell types reside in the two major laminae of vLGN, the retinorecipient, external vLGN (vLGNe) and the non-retinorecipient, internal vLGN (vLGNi). Furthermore, within vLGNe, we identified transcriptionally distinct subtypes of GABAergic cells that are distributed into four adjacent sublaminae. Using trans-synaptic viral tracing and in vitro electrophysiology, we found cells in each these vLGNe sublaminae receive monosynaptic inputs from retina. These results not only identify novel subtypes of GABAergic cells in vLGN, they suggest the subtype-specific laminar distribution of retinorecipient cells in vLGNe may be important for receiving, processing, and transmitting light-derived signals in parallel channels of the subcortical visual system.

Keywords: GABAergic; circuit; geniculate; retina; thalamus; visual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • GABAergic Neurons / physiology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Light
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Transcriptome
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / cytology