ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-201002-168
Hypothalamic Pomc Neurons Innervate the Spinal Cord and Modulate the Excitability of Premotor Circuits
Reinoß, P., Ciglieri, E., Minére, M., Bremser, S., Klein, A., Löhr, H., Fuller, P.M., Büschges, A., Kloppenburg, P., Fenselau, H., Hammerschmidt, M.
Date: 2020
Source: Current biology : CB   30(23): 4579-4593.e7 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Hammerschmidt, Matthias, Löhr, Heiko
Keywords: Agrp, Mc4r, Pomc, energy homeostasis, interneurons, locomotion, mouse, neurocircuit, spinal cord, zebrafish
MeSH Terms: none
PubMed: 32976803 Full text @ Curr. Biol.
Locomotion requires energy, yet animals need to increase locomotion in order to find and consume food in energy-deprived states. While such energy homeostatic coordination suggests brain origin, whether the central melanocortin 4 receptor (Mc4r) system directly modulates locomotion through motor circuits is unknown. Here, we report that hypothalamic Pomc neurons in zebrafish and mice have long-range projections into spinal cord regions harboring Mc4r-expressing V2a interneurons, crucial components of the premotor networks. Furthermore, in zebrafish, Mc4r activation decreases the excitability of spinal V2a neurons as well as swimming and foraging, while systemic or V2a neuron-specific blockage of Mc4r promotes locomotion. In contrast, in mice, electrophysiological recordings revealed that two-thirds of V2a neurons in lamina X are excited by the Mc4r agonist α-MSH, and acute inhibition of Mc4r signaling reduces locomotor activity. In addition, we found other Mc4r neurons in spinal lamina X that are inhibited by α-MSH, which is in line with previous studies in rodents where Mc4r agonists reduced locomotor activity. Collectively, our studies identify spinal V2a interneurons as evolutionary conserved second-order neurons of the central Mc4r system, providing a direct anatomical and functional link between energy homeostasis and locomotor control systems. The net effects of this modulatory system on locomotor activity can vary between different vertebrate species and, possibly, even within one species. We discuss the biological sense of this phenomenon in light of the ambiguity of locomotion on energy balance and the different living conditions of the different species.