Molecular organization of the Octopus visual system determined by single cell RNA – sequencing

Presenting Author: Jeremea O. Songco

Authors: Jeremea O. Songco [1] , Gabrielle Coffing [2], Judit R. Pungor [1], Denise M. Piscopo [1], Andrew Kern [2], Adam C. Miller [1], Cristopher M. Niell [1]

1. Institute of Neuroscience at University of Oregon USA
2. Institute of Ecology and Evolution at University of Oregon USA.

Octopuses, like vertebrates, have camera – like eye structures despite the two lineages having diverged evolutionarily over 500 m illion years ago from a common ancestor. Furthermore, anatomical evidence suggests that octopuses and vertebrates may have similar neuronal cell types within their visual system. However, little is known regarding the molecular determinants of visual system organization in octopuses. We performed single cell RNA – sequencing of the optic lobes of juvenile Octopus bimaculoides with the goal of developing a molecular atlas of the octopus visual system that we could connect to anatomical cell types. Cells were sequenced using the 10X platform, sequencing data was aligned to improved gene models generated through a HISAT2/Cufflinks bioinformatic pipeline, and clustered using the Seurat package. Initial analysis has identified ~40 different neuronal cell types based on their unique transcriptional profiles. Within these, distinct cell types correspond to different neurotransmitter and/or neuropeptide identity, providing a framework for the neural circuit organization of the optic lobe. Furthermore, a number of cell types also express markers that may mediate cell fate or connectivity, such as transcription factors and adhesion molecules. Based on sequencing results, we used fluorescent RNA in situ hybridization to confirm several of these transcriptional cell types, as well as demonstrate their corresponding anatomical organization within the optic lobe. This study begins to illustrate the molecular determinants underlying neural circuits in the octopus visual system, which can, in turn, provide insight into development and function of the optic lobe as well as evolutionary influences on visual processing.

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