Much work has explored animal-to-animal variability and compensation in ion channel expression. Yet, little is known regarding the physiological consequences of morphological variability. We quantify animal-to-animal variability in cable lengths (CV = 0.4) and branching patterns in the Gastric Mill (GM) neuron, an identified neuron type with highly-conserved physiological properties in the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of Cancer borealis. We examined passive GM electrotonic structure by measuring the amplitudes and apparent reversal potentials (Erevs) of inhibitory responses evoked with focal glutamate photo-uncaging in the presence of TTX. Apparent Erevs were relatively invariant across sites (mean CV + SD =0.04 + 0.01; 7-20 sites in each of 10 neurons), which ranged between 100-800 µm from the somatic recording site. Thus, GM neurons are remarkably electrotonically compact (estimated λ > 1.5 mm). Electrotonically compact structures, in consort with graded transmission, provide an elegant solution to observed morphological variability in the STG.
- Adriane G Otopalik
- Eve Marder
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Indira M Raman, Northwestern University, United States
© 2017, Otopalik et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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Neuronal physiology depends on a neuron’s ion channel composition and unique morphology. Variable ion channel compositions can produce similar neuronal physiologies across animals. Less is known regarding the morphological precision required to produce reliable neuronal physiology. Theoretical studies suggest that moraphology is tightly tuned to minimize wiring and conduction delay of synaptic events. We utilize high-resolution confocal microscopy and custom computational tools to characterize the morphologies of four neuron types in the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of the crab Cancer borealis. Macroscopic branching patterns and fine cable properties are variable within and across neuron types. We compare these neuronal structures to synthetic minimal spanning neurite trees constrained by a wiring cost equation and find that STG neurons do not adhere to prevailing hypotheses regarding wiring optimization principles. In this highly modulated and oscillating circuit, neuronal structures appear to be governed by a space-filling mechanism that outweighs the cost of inefficient wiring.
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