Chuchu Zhang, Judith A Kaye, Zerong Cai, Yandan Wang, Sara L Prescott, Stephen D Liberles
Nausea, the unpleasant sensation of visceral malaise, remains a mysterious process. The area postrema is implicated in some nausea responses and is anatomically privileged to detect blood-borne signals. To investigate nausea mechanisms, we built an area postrema cell atlas through single-nucleus RNA sequencing, revealing a few neuron types. Using mouse genetic tools for cell-specific manipulation, we discovered excitatory neurons that induce nausea-related behaviors, with one neuron type mediating aversion imposed by multiple poisons. Nausea-associated responses to agonists of identified area postrema receptors were observed and suppressed by targeted cell ablation and/or gene knockout. Anatomical mapping revealed a distributed network of long-range excitatory but not inhibitory projections with subtype-specific patterning. These studies reveal the basic organization of area postrema nausea circuitry and provide a framework toward understanding and therapeutically controlling nausea.