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A ventromedial prefrontal-to-lateral entorhinal cortex pathway modulates the gain of behavioral responding during threat.

      Abstract

      Background

      The ability to correctly associate cues and contexts with threat is critical for survival, while the inability to do so can result in threat-related disorders such as PTSD. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) and hippocampus are well known to play critical roles in cued and contextual threat memory processing. However, the circuits that mediate prefrontal-hippocampal modulation of context discrimination during cued threat processing are less understood. Here we demonstrate the role of a previously unexplored projection from the ventromedial region of PFC (vmPFC) to the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) in modulating the gain of behavior in response to contextual information during threat retrieval and encoding.

      Methods

      We employ optogenetics followed by in vivo calcium imaging in male C57/B6J mice to manipulate and monitor vmPFC-LEC activity in response to threat-associated cues in different contexts. We then investigate the inputs to, and outputs from, vmPFC-LEC cells using Rabies tracing and channelrhodopsin-assisted electrophysiology.
      Results: vmPFC-LEC cells flexibly and bidirectionally shape behavior during threat expression, shaping sensitivity to contextual information to increase or decrease the gain of behavioral output in response to a threatening or neutral context, respectively.

      Conclusion

      Glutamatergic vmPFC-LEC cells are a key player in behavioral gain control in response to contextual information during threat processing and may provide a future target for intervention in threat-based disorders.

      Keywords

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