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Title: Characterization of a thalamic nucleus mediating habenula responses to changes in ambient illumination
Authors: Cheng, Ruey-Kuang
Krishnan, Seetha
Lin, Qian
Kibat, Caroline
Jesuthasan, Suresh
Keywords: Zebrafish
Issue Date: 2017
Source: Cheng, R.-K., Krishnan, S., Lin, Q., Kibat, C., & Jesuthasan, S. (2017). Characterization of a thalamic nucleus mediating habenula responses to changes in ambient illumination. BMC Biology, 15(1), 104-.
Series/Report no.: BMC Biology
Abstract: Background: Neural activity in the vertebrate habenula is affected by ambient illumination. The nucleus that links photoreceptor activity with the habenula is not well characterized. Here, we describe the location, inputs and potential function of this nucleus in larval zebrafish. Results: High-speed calcium imaging shows that light ON and OFF both evoke a rapid response in the dorsal left neuropil of the habenula, indicating preferential targeting of this neuropil by afferents conveying information about ambient illumination. Injection of a lipophilic dye into this neuropil led to bilateral labeling of a nucleus in the anterior thalamus that responds to light ON and OFF, and that receives innervation from the retina and pineal organ. Lesioning the neuropil of this thalamic nucleus reduced the habenula response to light ON and OFF. Optogenetic stimulation of the thalamus with channelrhodopsin-2 caused depolarization in the habenula, while manipulation with anion channelrhodopsins inhibited habenula response to light and disrupted climbing and diving evoked by illumination change. Conclusions: A nucleus in the anterior thalamus of larval zebrafish innervates the dorsal left habenula. This nucleus receives input from the retina and pineal, responds to increase and decrease in ambient illumination, enables habenula responses to change in irradiance, and may function in light-evoked vertical migration.
DOI: 10.1186/s12915-017-0431-1
Rights: © 2017 Jesuthasan et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
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