Virus-Assisted Mapping of Neural Inputs to a Feeding Center in the Hypothalamus

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Science  30 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5513, pp. 2608-2613
DOI: 10.1126/science.1056602

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We report the development of a pseudorabies virus that can be used for retrograde tracing from selected neurons. This virus encodes a green fluorescent protein marker and replicates only in neurons that express the Cre recombinase and in neurons in synaptic contact with the originally infected cells. The virus was injected into the arcuate nucleus of mice that express Cre only in those neurons that express neuropeptide Y or the leptin receptor. Sectioning of the brains revealed that these neurons receive inputs from neurons in other regions of the hypothalamus, as well as the amygdala, cortex, and other brain regions. These data suggest that higher cortical centers modulate leptin signaling in the hypothalamus. This method of neural tracing may prove useful in studies of other complex neural circuits.

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