December 2021

Farrell JS, Lovett-Barron M, Klein PM, Sparks FT, Gschwind T, Ortiz AL, Ahanonu B, Bradbury S, Terada S, Oijala M, Hwaun E, Dudok B, Szabo G, Schnitzer MJ, Deisseroth K, Losonczy A, Soltesz I. Science, 2021, Dec 16. Vol 374, Issue 6574, pp. 1492-1496, DOI: 10.1126/science.abh4272.

Locomotor speed is a basic input used to calculate one’s position, but where this signal comes from is unclear. We identified neurons in the supramammillary nucleus (SuM) of the rodent hypothalamus that were highly correlated with future locomotor speed and reliably drove locomotion when activated. Robust locomotion control was specifically identified in Tac1 (substance P)–expressing (SuMTac1+) neurons, the activation of which selectively controlled the activity of speed-modulated hippocampal neurons. By contrast, Tac1-deficient (SuMTac1−) cells weakly regulated locomotion but potently controlled the spike timing of hippocampal neurons and were sufficient to entrain local network oscillations. These findings emphasize that the SuM not only regulates basic locomotor activity but also selectively shapes hippocampal neural activity in a manner that may support spatial navigation.