Localization of glutamatergic, GABAergic, and cholinergic neurons in the brain of the African cichlid fish, Astatotilapia burtoni

Document Type


Publication Date



© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Neural communication depends on release and reception of different neurotransmitters within complex circuits that ultimately mediate basic biological functions. We mapped the distribution of glutamatergic, GABAergic, and cholinergic neurons in the brain of the African cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni using in situ hybridization to label vesicular glutamate transporters (vglut1, vglut2.1, vglut3), glutamate decarboxylases (gad1, gad2), and choline acetyltransferase (chat). Cells expressing the glutamatergic markers vgluts 1–3 show primarily nonoverlapping distribution patterns, with the most widespread expression observed for vglut2.1, and more restricted expression of vglut1 and vglut3. vglut1 is prominent in granular layers of the cerebellum, habenula, preglomerular nuclei, and several other diencephalic, mesencephalic, and rhombencephalic regions. vglut2.1 is widely expressed in many nuclei from the olfactory bulbs to the hindbrain, while vglut3 is restricted to the hypothalamus and hindbrain. GABAergic cells show largely overlapping gad1 and gad2 expression in most brain regions. GABAergic expression dominates nuclei of the subpallial ventral telencephalon, while glutamatergic expression dominates nuclei of the pallial dorsal telencephalon. chat-expressing cells are prominent in motor cranial nerve nuclei, and some scattered cells lie in the preoptic area and ventral part of the ventral telencephalon. A localization summary of these markers within regions of the conserved social decision-making network reveals a predominance of either GABAergic or glutamatergic cells within individual nuclei. The neurotransmitter distributions described here in the brain of a single fish species provide an important resource for identification of brain nuclei in other fishes, as well as future comparative studies on circuit organization and function. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:610–638, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Journal of Comparative Neurology

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.