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Molecular and neuroanatomical characterization of single neurons in the mouse medullary gigantocellular reticular nucleus.

Journal article
Authors E M Martin
N Devidze
D N Shelley
Lars Westberg
C Fontaine
D W Pfaff
Published in The Journal of comparative neurology
Volume 519
Issue 13
Pages 2574-93
ISSN 1096-9861
Publication year 2011
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Pages 2574-93
Language en
Keywords Animals, Biological Markers, metabolism, Connexins, genetics, metabolism, Female, Male, Medulla Oblongata, cytology, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Neural Pathways, cytology, Neurons, cytology, physiology, Patch-Clamp Techniques, RNA, Messenger, metabolism, Reticular Formation, cytology, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Staining and Labeling, methods
Subject categories Pharmacology and Toxicology


Medullary gigantocellular reticular nucleus (mGi) neurons have been ascribed a variety of behaviors, many of which may fall under the concepts of either arousal or motivation. Despite this, many details of the connectivity of mGi neurons, particularly in reference to those neurons with ascending axons, remain unknown. To provide a neuroanatomical and molecular characterization of these cells, with reference to arousal and level-setting systems, large medullary reticular neurons were characterized with retrograde dye techniques and with real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) analyses of single-neuron mRNA expression in the mouse. We have shown that receptors consistent with participation in generalized arousal are expressed by single mGi neurons and that receptors from different families of arousal-related neurotransmitters are rarely coexpressed. Through retrograde labeling, we have shown that neurons with ascending axons and neurons with descending axons tend to form like-with-like clusters, a finding that is consistent across age and gender. In comparing the two groups of retrogradely labeled neurons in neonatal animals, those neurons with axons that ascend to the midbrain show markers for GABAergic or coincident GABAergic and glutamatergic function; in contrast, approximately 60% of the neurons with axons that descend to the spinal cord are glutamatergic. We discuss the mGi's relationship to the voluntary and emotional motor systems and speculate that neurons in the mGi may represent a mammalian analogue to Mauthner cells, with a separation of function for neurons with ascending and descending axons.

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