Molecular, spatial, and functional single-cell profiling of the hypothalamic preoptic region
The hypothalamus controls essential social behaviors and homeostatic functions. However, the cellular architecture of hypothalamic nuclei—including the molecular identity, spatial organization, and function of distinct cell types—is poorly understood. Here, we developed an imaging-based in situ cell-type identification and mapping method and combined it with single-cell RNA-sequencing to create a molecularly annotated and spatially resolved cell atlas of the mouse hypothalamic preoptic region. We profiled ~1 million cells, identified ~70 neuronal populations characterized by distinct neuromodulatory signatures and spatial organizations, and defined specific neuronal populations activated during social behaviors in male and female mice, providing a high-resolution framework for mechanistic investigation of behavior circuits. The approach described opens a new avenue for the construction of cells atlases in diverse tissues and organisms.