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PLoS Comput Biol. 2006 Dec 8;2(12):e167.

Gene expression of Caenorhabditis elegans neurons carries information on their synaptic connectivity.

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  • 1Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. akaufman@alice.nc.huji.ac.il


The claim that genetic properties of neurons significantly influence their synaptic network structure is a common notion in neuroscience. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans provides an exciting opportunity to approach this question in a large-scale quantitative manner. Its synaptic connectivity network has been identified, and, combined with cellular studies, we currently have characteristic connectivity and gene expression signatures for most of its neurons. By using two complementary analysis assays we show that the expression signature of a neuron carries significant information about its synaptic connectivity signature, and identify a list of putative genes predicting neural connectivity. The current study rigorously quantifies the relation between gene expression and synaptic connectivity signatures in the C. elegans nervous system and identifies subsets of neurons where this relation is highly marked. The results presented and the genes identified provide a promising starting point for further, more detailed computational and experimental investigations.

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