- Reviewing EditorJoel ElmquistUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States of America
- Senior EditorLaura ColginUniversity of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States of America
Reviewer #1 (Public Review):
In this study, the authors examined the putative functions of hypothalamic groups identifiable through Foxb1 expression, namely the parvofox Foxb1 of the LHA and the PMd Foxb1, emphasizing innate defensive responses. First, they reported that chemogenetic activation of Foxb1hypothalamic cell groups led to tachypnea. The authors tend to attribute this effect to the activation of hM3Dq expressed in the parvofox Foxb1 but did not rule out the participation of the PMd Foxb1 cell group, which may as well have expressed hM3Dq, particularly considering the large volume (200 nl) of the viral construct injected. Notably, the activation of the Foxb1hypothalamic cell groups in this experiment did not alter the gross locomotor activity, such as time spent immobile state. Thus, this contrasts with the authors' finding on the optogenetic activation of the Foxb1hypothalamic fibers projecting to the dorsolateral PAG. In the second experiment, the authors applied optogenetic ChR2-mediated excitation of the Foxb1+ cell bodies' axonal endings in the dlPAG, leading to freezing and, in a few cases, bradycardia. The effective site to evoke freezing was the rostral PAGdl, and fibers positioned either ventral or caudal to this target had no response. Considering the pattern of Foxb1hypothalamic cell groups projection to the PAG, the fibers projecting to the rostral PAGdl are likely to arise from the PMd Foxb1 cell group and not from the parvofox Foxb1 of the LHA. Here, it is important to consider that activation of PMd CCK cell group, which consists of around 90% of the PMd cells, evokes escape, not freezing. According to the present findings, a specific population of PMd Foxb1 cells may be involved in producing freezing. In addition, only a few of the animals with correct fiber placement presented sudden onset of bradycardia in response to the photostimulation. Considering the authors' findings, the Foxb1+ hypothalamic groups are likely to mediate behavioral responses related to innate defensive responses, where the parvofox Foxb1 of the LHA would be involved in promoting tachypnea and the PMd Foxb1group in mediating freezing and bradycardia. These findings are exciting, and, at this point, they need to be tested in a scenario of actual exposure to a natural predator.
Reviewer #2 (Public Review):
The authors aimed to examine the role of a group of neurons expressing Foxb1 in behaviors through projections to the dlPAG. Standard chemogenetic activation or inhibition and optogentic terminal activation or inhibition at local PAG were used and results suggested that, while activation led to reduced locomotion and breathing, inhibition led to a small degree of increased locomotion.
The observed effects on breathing are evident and dramatic. However, due to the circumstance that does not permit to perform additional experiments, the conclusion is not as strong as it could be.