Animals exhibit behavioral and neural responses that persist on longer time scales than transient or fluctuating stimulus inputs. Here, we report that C. elegans uses feedback from the motor circuit to a sensory processing interneuron to sustain its motor state during thermotactic navigation. By imaging circuit activity in behaving animals, we show that a principal postsynaptic partner of the AFD thermosensory neuron, the AIY interneuron, encodes both temperature and motor state information. By optogenetic and genetic manipulation of this circuit, we demonstrate that the motor state representation in AIY is a corollary discharge signal. RIM, an interneuron that is connected with premotor interneurons, is required for this corollary discharge. Ablation of RIM eliminates the motor representation in AIY, allows thermosensory representations to reach downstream premotor interneurons, and reduces the animal's ability to sustain forward movements during thermotaxis. We propose that feedback from the motor circuit to the sensory processing circuit underlies a positive feedback mechanism to generate persistent neural activity and sustained behavioral patterns in a sensorimotor transformation.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 1-6. Source code has been provided for Figure 7.
- Aravinthan DT Samuel
- Aravinthan DT Samuel
- Mark J Alkema
- Vivek Venkatachalam
- Mei Zhen
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Manuel Zimmer, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna Biocenter and University of Vienna, Austria
© 2021, Ji et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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.
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