Astrocytes Control Sensory Acuity via Tonic Inhibition in the Thalamus

Hankyul Kwak, Wuhyun Koh, Sangwoo Kim, Kiyeong Song, Jeong Im Shin, Jung Moo Lee, Elliot H. Lee, Jin Young Bae, Go Eun Ha, Ju Eun Oh, Yongmin Mason Park, Sunpil Kim, Jiesi Feng, Seung Eun Lee, Ji Won Choi, Ki Hun Kim, Yoo Sung Kim, Junsung Woo, Dongsu Lee, Taehwang SonSoon Woo Kwon, Ki Duk Park, Bo Eun Yoon, Jaeick Lee, Yulong Li, Hyunbeom Lee, Yong Chul Bae, C. Justin Lee, Eunji Cheong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Sensory discrimination is essential for survival. However, how sensory information is finely controlled in the brain is not well defined. Here, we show that astrocytes control tactile acuity via tonic inhibition in the thalamus. Mechanistically, diamine oxidase (DAO) and the subsequent aldehyde dehydrogenase 1a1 (Aldh1a1) convert putrescine into GABA, which is released via Best1. The GABA from astrocytes inhibits synaptically evoked firing at the lemniscal synapses to fine-tune the dynamic range of the stimulation-response relationship, the precision of spike timing, and tactile discrimination. Our findings reveal a novel role of astrocytes in the control of sensory acuity through tonic GABA release.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-706.e10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov 25

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) ( 2017R1A5A2015391 , 2014M3A7B4051596 , 2017R1A2B3011098 , 2017M3C7A1023471 , 2015R1A3A2066619 , 2013M3A9C4078145, and 2020R1A4A1019009 ), the Korea Health Technology R&D Project of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute ( HI18C1664 ), the International Collaborative R&D Program funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy ( N0001720 ), the General Research Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 31871087 and 31671118 ), Brain Korea 21 PLUS, and Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Center for Cognition and Sociality (IBS-R001-D2) .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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