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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Aug 2020 - 14 Aug 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Aug 06

J Neurosci

Cortical and Thalamic Interaction with Amygdala-to-Accumbens Synapses.


Xia S, Yu J, Huang X, Sesack SR, Huang YH, Schlüter OM, Cao J-L, Dong Y
J Neurosci. 2020 Aug 06.
PMID: 32763909.


The nucleus accumbens shell (NAcSh) regulates emotional and motivational responses, a function mediated, in part, by integrating and prioritizing extensive glutamatergic projections from limbic and paralimbic brain regions. Each of these inputs is thought to encode unique aspects of emotional and motivational arousal. The projections do not operate alone, but rather are often activated simultaneously during motivated behaviors, during which they can interact and coordinate in shaping behavioral output. To understand the anatomical and physiological bases underlying these inter-projection interactions, the current study in mice of both sexes focused on how the basolateral amygdala projection to the NAcSh (BLAp) regulates, and is regulated by, projections from the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFCp) and paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVTp). Using a dual-color SynaptoTag technique combined with a backfilling spine imaging strategy, we found that all three afferent projections primarily targeted the secondary dendrites of NAcSh medium spiny neurons, forming putative synapses. We detected a low percentage of BLAp contacts closely adjacent to mPFCp or PVTp presumed synapses, and, on some rare occasions, the BLAp formed heterosynaptic interactions with mPFCp or PVTp profiles or appeared to contact the same spines. Using dual-rhodopsin optogenetics, we detected signs of dendritic summation of BLAp with PVTp and mPFCp inputs. Furthermore, high-frequency activation of BLAp synchronous with the PVTp or mPFCp resulted in a transient enhancement of the PVTp, but not mPFCp, transmission. These results provide anatomical and functional indices that the BLAp interacts with the mPFCp and PVTp for informational processing within the NAcSh.The nucleus accumbens regulates emotional and motivational responses by integrating extensive glutamatergic projections, but the anatomical and physiological bases on which these projections integrate and interact remain underexplored. Here, we used dual-color synaptic markers combined with backfilling of nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons to reveal some unique anatomical alignments of presumed synapses from the basolateral amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex, and paraventricular nucleus of thalamus. We also used dual-rhodopsin optogenetics in brain slices, which reveal a nonlinear interaction between some, but not all, projections. These results provide compelling anatomical and physiological mechanisms through which different glutamatergic projections to the nucleus accumbens, and possibly different aspects of emotional and motivational arousal, interact with each other for final behavioral output.