Luo Lab

Anatomically Defined and Functionally Distinct Dorsal Raphe Serotonin Sub-systems

The dorsal raphe (DR) constitutes a major serotonergic input to the forebrain and modulates diverse functions and brain states, including mood, anxiety, and sensory and motor functions. Most functional studies to date have treated DR serotonin neurons as a single population. Using viral-genetic methods, we found that subcortical- and cortical-projecting serotonin neurons have distinct cell-body distributions within the DR and differentially co-express a vesicular glutamate transporter. Further, amygdala- and frontal-cortex-projecting DR serotonin neurons have largely complementary whole-brain collateralization patterns, receive biased inputs from presynaptic partners, and exhibit opposite responses to aversive stimuli. Gain- and loss-of-function experiments suggest that amygdala-projecting DR serotonin neurons promote anxiety-like behavior, whereas frontal-cortex-projecting neurons promote active coping in the face of challenge. These results provide compelling evidence that the DR serotonin system contains parallel sub-systems that differ in input and output connectivity, physiological response properties, and behavioral functions.

Ren, J., Friedmann, D., Xiong, J., Liu, C. D., Ferguson, B. R., Weerakkody, T., ... & Liqun Luo. (2018). Anatomically Defined and Functionally Distinct Dorsal Raphe Serotonin Sub-systems. Cell, 175(2), 472-487. 

Temporal Evolution of Cortical Ensembles Promoting Remote Memory Retrieval

Memories of fearful events can last a lifetime. The prelimbic (PL) subregion of prefrontal cortex plays a critical role in fear memory retrieval over time. Most studies have focused on acquisition, consolidation, and retrieval of recent memories, but much less is known about the neural mechanisms of remote memory. Using a new knock-in mouse for activity-dependent genetic labeling (TRAP2), we demonstrate that neuronal ensembles in PL are dynamic. PL neurons TRAPed during later memory retrievals are more likely to be reactivated and make larger behavioral contributions to remote memory retrieval compared to those TRAPed during learning or early memory retrieval. PL activity during learning is required to initiate this time-dependent reorganization in PL ensembles underlying memory retrieval. Finally, while neurons TRAPed during earlier and later retrievals have similar broad projections throughout the brain, PL neurons TRAPed later have a stronger functional recruitment of cortical targets.

DeNardo, L. A., Liu, C. D., Allen, W. E., Adams, E. L., Friedmann, D., Dadgar-Kiani, E., ... & Luo, L. (2018). Temporal evolution of cortical ensembles promoting remote memory retrieval. bioRxiv, 295238. Under review, Nature Neuroscience

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