Tectal-derived interneurons contribute to phasic and tonic inhibition in the visual thalamus

Polona Jager, Zhiwen Ye, Xiao Yu, Laskaro Zagoraiou, Hong-Ting Prekop, Juha Partanen, Thomas M Jessell, William Wisden, Stephen G Brickley, Alessio Delogu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)


The release of GABA from local interneurons in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN-INs) provides inhibitory control during visual processing within the thalamus. It is commonly assumed that this important class of interneurons originates from within the thalamic complex, but we now show that during early postnatal development Sox14/Otx2-expressing precursor cells migrate from the dorsal midbrain to generate dLGN-INs. The unexpected extra-diencephalic origin of dLGN-INs sets them apart from GABAergic neurons of the reticular thalamic nucleus. Using optogenetics we show that at increased firing rates tectal-derived dLGN-INs generate a powerful form of tonic inhibition that regulates the gain of thalamic relay neurons through recruitment of extrasynaptic high-affinity GABAA receptors. Therefore, by revising the conventional view of thalamic interneuron ontogeny we demonstrate how a previously unappreciated mesencephalic population controls thalamic relay neuron excitability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13579
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalNature Communications
Early online date8 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Animals
  • Biomarkers/metabolism
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Movement
  • Geniculate Bodies/cytology
  • Interneurons/physiology
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neural Inhibition/physiology
  • Otx Transcription Factors/metabolism
  • SOXB2 Transcription Factors/metabolism
  • Stem Cells/metabolism
  • Superior Colliculi/physiology
  • Thalamus/physiology
  • Visual Pathways/physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid/metabolism


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