J Comp Neurol.: auth.: group Thorens & S.Croizier

J Comp Neurol. 2022 Mar 18. doi: 10.1002/cne.25312. Online ahead of print.

Structural and molecular characterization of paraventricular thalamic glucokinase-expressing neuronal circuits in the mouse

Sevasti Gaspari 1Simon Quenneville 1Ana Rodriguez Sanchez-Archidona 1Bernard Thorens 1Sophie Croizier 1


The thalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVT) is a structure highly interconnected with several nuclei ranging from forebrain to hypothalamus and brainstem. Numerous rodent studies have examined afferent and efferent connections of the PVT and their contribution to behavior, revealing its important role in the integration of arousal cues. However, the majority of these studies used a region-oriented approach, without considering the neuronal subtype diversity of the nucleus. In the present study, we provide the anatomical and transcriptomic characterization of a subpopulation of PVT neurons molecularly defined by the expression of glucokinase (Gck). Combining a genetically modified mouse model with viral tracing approaches, we mapped both the anterograde and the retrograde projections of Gck-positive neurons of the anterior PVT (GckaPVT ). Our results demonstrated that GckaPVT neurons innervate several nuclei throughout the brain axis. The strongest connections are with forebrain areas associated with reward and stress and with hypothalamic structures involved in energy balance and feeding regulation. Furthermore, transcriptomic analysis of the Gck-expressing neurons revealed that they are enriched in receptors for hypothalamic-derived neuropeptides, adhesion molecules, and obesity and diabetes susceptibility transcription factors. Using retrograde labeling combined with immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, we identify that GckaPVT neurons receive direct inputs from well-defined hypothalamic populations, including arginine-vasopressin-, melanin-concentrating hormone-, orexin-, and proopiomelanocortin-expressing neurons. This detailed anatomical and transcriptomic characterization of GckaPVT neurons provides a basis for functional studies of the integration of homeostatic and hedonic aspects of energy homeostasis, and for deciphering the potential role of these neurons in obesity and diabetes development.

Keywords: TRAP; anterograde and retrograde tract tracing; glucokinase-expressing neurons; hypothalamic nuclei; neurohormones; neuropeptides; neurotransmitters; paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus.