Geniculo-Cortical Projection Diversity Revealed within the Mouse Visual Thalamus
The mouse dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) is an intermediary between retina and primary visual cortex (V1). Recent investigations are beginning to reveal regional complexity in mouse dLGN. Using local injections of retrograde tracers into V1 of adult and neonatal mice, we examined the developing organisation of geniculate projection columns: the population of dLGN-V1 projection neurons that converge in cortex. Serial sectioning of the dLGN enabled the distribution of labelled projection neurons to be reconstructed and collated within a common standardised space. This enabled us to determine: the organisation of cells within the dLGN-V1 projection columns; their internal organisation (topology); and their order relative to V1 (topography). Here, we report parameters of projection columns that are highly variable in young animals and refined in the adult, exhibiting profiles consistent with shell and core zones of the dLGN. Additionally, such profiles are disrupted in adult animals with reduced correlated spontaneous activity during development. Assessing the variability between groups with partial least squares regression suggests that 4–6 cryptic lamina may exist along the length of the projection column. Our findings further spotlight the diversity of the mouse dLGN–an increasingly important model system for understanding the pre-cortical organisation and processing of visual information. Furthermore, our approach of using standardised spaces and pooling information across many animals will enhance future functional studies of the dLGN.