January 17, 2021

Local brainstem circuits contribute to reticulospinal output in the mouse

Glutamatergic reticulospinal neurons in the gigantocellular reticular nucleus (GRN) of the medullary reticular formation can function as command neurons, transmitting motor commands to spinal cord circuits. Recent advances in our understanding of this neuron-dense region have been facilitated by the discovery of expression of the transcriptional regulator, Chx10, in excitatory reticulospinal neurons. Here, we address the capacity of local circuitry in the GRN to contribute to reticulospinal output. We define two sub-populations of Chx10-expressing neurons in this region, based on distinct electrophysiological properties and somata size (small and large), and show that these correspond to local interneurons and reticulospinal neurons, respectively. Using focal release of caged-glutamate combined with patch clamp recordings, we demonstrated that Chx10 neurons form microcircuits in which the Chx10 interneurons project to and facilitate the firing of Chx10 reticulospinal neurons. We discuss the implications of these microcircuits in terms of movement selection.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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