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Journal Article

Transfer characteristics of a thermosensory synapse in Caenorhabditis elegans


Laurent,  G.
Neural systems Department, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Max Planck Society;

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Narayan, A., Laurent, G., & Sternberg, P. W. (2011). Transfer characteristics of a thermosensory synapse in Caenorhabditis elegans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A., 108(23), 9667-9672. doi:10.1073/pnas.1106617108.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-1CF9-3
Caenorhabditis elegans is a compact, attractive system for neural circuit analysis. An understanding of the functional dynamics of neural computation requires physiological analyses. We undertook the characterization of transfer at a central synapse in C. elegans by combining optical stimulation of targeted neurons with electrophysiological recordings. We show that the synapse between AFD and AIY, the first stage in the thermotactic circuit, exhibits excitatory, tonic, and graded release. We measured the linear range of the input-output curve and estimate the static synaptic gain as 0.056 (<0.1). Release showed no obvious facilitation or depression. Transmission at this synapse is peptidergic. The AFD/AIY synapse thus seems to have evolved for reliable transmission of a scaled-down temperature signal from AFD, enabling AIY to monitor and integrate temperature with other sensory input. Combining optogenetics with electrophysiology is a powerful way to analyze C. elegans' neural function.