Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents
Diego V. Bohorquez, PhD
Assistant Professor Gastroenterology and Neurobiology, Duke University, Durham, NC
Host: Julia Kaltschmidt
Our motivation to consume sugars is thought to arise at the surface of the gut. However, the neural circuits are unknown. The Bohórquez Laboratory discovered a neural circuit linking gut to brain in one synapse. The circuit begins with a type of sensory epithelial cell that synapses with the vagus nerve. These epithelial cells are called neuropod cells. In the mouse small intestine, monosynaptic rabies virus infects neuropod cells and spreads onto vagal neurons that project to the nucleus tractus solitarius in the brainstem. This neural circuit is necessary and sufficient to transduce sensory signals from sugars. Silencing neuropod cells silences the ability of the animal to distinguish the caloric content in sugars. This gut sensor for caloric sugars is a portal for nutrients to drive our motivation to eat.