The sensation of breathlessness is the most threatening symptom of respiratory disease. The different subdivisions of the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) are intricately (and differentially) involved in integrating behavioural responses to threat in animals, while the PAG has previously only been considered as a single entity in human research. Here we investigate how these individual PAG columns are differently involved with respiratory threat. Eighteen healthy subjects were conditioned to associate shapes with certain or uncertain impending respiratory load, and scanned the following day during anticipation and application of inspiratory loading using 7 T functional MRI. We showed activity in the ventrolateral PAG (vlPAG) during anticipation of resistive loading, with activity in the lateral PAG (lPAG) during resistive loading, showing spatially and temporally distinct functions within this structure. We propose that lPAG is involved with sensorimotor responses to breathlessness, while the vlPAG operates within the threat perception network for impending breathlessness.
Human subjects: The Oxfordshire Clinical Research Ethics Committee approved the study and volunteers gave written, informed consent prior to testing.
- Jan-Marino Ramirez, Seattle Children's Research Institute and University of Washington, United States
© 2016, Faull et al.
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Chimeric RNAs have been found in both cancerous and healthy human cells. They have regulatory effects on human stem/progenitor cell differentiation, stemness maintenance, and central nervous system development. However, whether they are present in human retinal cells and their physiological functions in the retinal development remain unknown. Based on the human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal organoids (ROs) spanning from days 0 to 120, we present the expression atlas of chimeric RNAs throughout the developing ROs. We confirmed the existence of some common chimeric RNAs and also discovered many novel chimeric RNAs during retinal development. We focused on CTNNBIP1-CLSTN1 (CTCL) whose downregulation caused precocious neuronal differentiation and a marked reduction of neural progenitors in human cerebral organoids. CTCL is universally present in human retinas, ROs, and retinal cell lines, and its loss-of-function biases the progenitor cells toward retinal pigment epithelial cell fate at the expense of retinal cells. Together, this work provides a landscape of chimeric RNAs and reveals evidence for their critical role in human retinal development.
Deciphering patterns of connectivity between neurons in the brain is a critical step toward understanding brain function. Imaging-based neuroanatomical tracing identifies area-to-area or sparse neuron-to-neuron connectivity patterns, but with limited throughput. Barcode-based connectomics maps large numbers of single-neuron projections, but remains a challenge for jointly analyzing single-cell transcriptomics. Here, we established a rAAV2-retro barcode-based multiplexed tracing method that simultaneously characterizes the projectome and transcriptome at the single neuron level. We uncovered dedicated and collateral projection patterns of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) neurons to five downstream targets and found that projection-defined vmPFC neurons are molecularly heterogeneous. We identified transcriptional signatures of projection-specific vmPFC neurons, and verified Pou3f1 as a marker gene enriched in neurons projecting to the lateral hypothalamus, denoting a distinct subset with collateral projections to both dorsomedial striatum and lateral hypothalamus. In summary, we have developed a new multiplexed technique whose paired connectome and gene expression data can help reveal organizational principles that form neural circuits and process information.