VGLUT2 mRNA and protein expression in the visual thalamus and midbrain of prosimian galagos (Otolemur garnetti)
Pooja Balaram1, Toru Takahata1, Jon H Kaas1,2
1Department of Psychology, 2Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA
Abstract: Vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs) control the storage and presynaptic release of glutamate in the central nervous system, and are involved in the majority of glutamatergic transmission in the brain. Two VGLUT isoforms, VGLUT1 and VGLUT2, are known to characterize complementary distributions of glutamatergic neurons in the rodent brain, which suggests that they are each responsible for unique circuits of excitatory transmission. In rodents, VGLUT2 is primarily utilized in thalamocortical circuits, and is strongly expressed in the primary sensory nuclei, including all areas of the visual thalamus. The distribution of VGLUT2 in the visual thalamus and midbrain has yet to be characterized in primate species. Thus, the present study describes the expression of VGLUT2 mRNA and protein across the visual thalamus and superior colliculus of prosimian galagos to provide a better understanding of glutamatergic transmission in the primate brain. VGLUT2 is strongly expressed in all six layers of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus, and much less so in the intralaminar zones, which correspond to retinal and superior collicular inputs, respectively. The parvocellular and magnocellular layers expressed VGLUT2 mRNA more densely than the koniocellular layers. A patchy distribution of VGLUT2 positive terminals in the pulvinar complex possibly reflects inputs from the superior colliculus. The upper superficial granular layers of the superior colliculus, with inputs from the retina, most densely expressed VGLUT2 protein, while the lower superficial granular layers, with projections to the pulvinar, most densely expressed VGLUT2 mRNA. The results are consistent with the conclusion that retinal and superior colliculus projections to the thalamus depend highly on the VGLUT2 transporter, as do cortical projections from the magnocellular and parvocellular layers of the lateral geniculate nucleus and neurons of the pulvinar complex.
Keywords: lateral geniculate nucleus, superior colliculus, pulvinar, primate, glutamate