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Within the basal ganglia circuit, the external globus pallidus (GPe) is critically involved in motor control. Aside from Foxp2 neurons and ChAT neurons that have been established as unique neuron types, there is little consensus on the classification of GPe neurons. Properties of the remaining neuron types are poorly-defined. In this study, we leverage new mouse lines, viral tools, and molecular markers to better define GPe neuron subtypes. We found that Sox6 represents a novel, defining marker for GPe neuron subtypes. Lhx6 neurons that lack the expression of Sox6 were devoid of both parvalbumin and Npas1. This result confirms previous assertions of the existence of a unique Lhx6 population. Neurons that arise from the Dbx1 lineage were similarly abundant in the GPe and displayed a heterogeneous makeup. Importantly, tracing experiments revealed that Npas1-Nkx2.1 neurons represent the principal non-cholinergic, cortically-projecting neurons. In other words, they form the pallido-cortical arm of the cortico-pallido-cortical loop. Our data further described that pyramidal-tract neurons in the cortex collateralized within the GPe, forming a closed-loop system between the two brain structures. Overall, our findings reconcile some of the discrepancies that arose from differences in techniques or the reliance on pre-existing tools. While spatial distribution and electrophysiological properties of GPe neurons reaffirm the diversification of GPe subtypes, statistical analyses strongly support the notion that these neuron subtypes can be categorized under the two principal neuron classes-i.e., PV neurons and Npas1 neurons.The poor understanding of the neuronal composition in the GPe undermines our ability to interrogate its precise behavioral and disease involvements. In this study, twelve different genetic crosses were used, hundreds of neurons were electrophysiologically-characterized, and over 100,000 neurons were histologically- and/or anatomically-profiled. Our current study further establishes the segregation of GPe neuron classes and illustrates the complexity of GPe neurons in adult mice. Our results support the idea that Npas1-Nkx2.1 neurons are a distinct GPe neuron subclass. By providing a detailed analysis of the organization of the cortico-pallidal-cortical projection, our findings establish the cellular and circuit substrates that can be important for motor function and dysfunction.
PMID: 31811030 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
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