Serotonergic neuron regulation informed by in vivo single-cell transcriptomics
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Despite the recognized importance of the dorsal raphe (DR) serotonergic (5-HT) nuclei in the pathophysiology of depression and anxiety, the molecular components/putative drug targets expressed by these neurons are poorly characterized. Utilizing the promoter of an ETS domain transcription factor that is a stable marker of 5-HT neurons (Pet-1) to drive 5-HT neuronal expression of YFP, we identified 5-HT neurons in live acute slices. We isolated RNA from single 5-HT neurons in the ventromedial and lateral wings of the DR and performed single-cell RNA-Seq analysis identifying >500 G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) including receptors for classical transmitters, lipid signals, and peptides as well as dozens of orphan-GPCRs. Using these data to inform our selection of receptors to assess, we found that oxytocin and lysophosphatidic acid 1 receptors are translated and active in costimulating, with the α1-adrenergic receptor, the firing of DR 5-HT neurons, while the effects of histamine are inhibitory and exerted at H3 histamine receptors. The inhibitory histamine response provides evidence for tonic in vivo histamine inhibition of 5-HT neurons. This study illustrates that unbiased single-cell transcriptomics coupled with functional analyses provides novel insights into how neurons and neuronal systems are regulated.
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