Retinal inputs signal astrocytes to recruit interneurons into visual thalamus
Charalambakis, Naomi E.
Somaiya, Rachana D.
Fox, Michael A.
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Inhibitory interneurons comprise a fraction of the total neurons in the visual thalamus but are essential for sharpening receptive field properties and improving contrast-gain of retinogeniculate transmission. During early development, these interneurons undergo long-range migration from germinal zones, a process regulated by the innervation of the visual thalamus by retinal ganglion cells. Here, using transcriptomic approaches, we identified a motogenic cue, fibroblast growth factor 15 (FGF15), whose expression in the visual thalamus is regulated by retinal input. Targeted deletion of functional FGF15 in mice led to a reduction in thalamic GABAergic interneurons similar to that observed in the absence of retinal input. This loss may be attributed, at least in part, to misrouting of interneurons into nonvisual thalamic nuclei. Unexpectedly, expression analysis revealed that FGF15 is generated by thalamic astrocytes and not retino-recipient neurons. Thus, these data show that retinal inputs signal through astrocytes to direct the long-range recruitment of interneurons into the visual thalamus.