Structural properties of the Caenorhabditis elegans neuronal network

Lav R. Varshney, Beth L. Chen, Eric Paniagua, David H. Hall, Dmitri B. Chklovskii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

387 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite recent interest in reconstructing neuronal networks, complete wiring diagrams on the level of individual synapses remain scarce and the insights into function they can provide remain unclear. Even for Caenorhabditis elegans, whose neuronal network is relatively small and stereotypical from animal to animal, published wiring diagrams are neither accurate nor complete and self-consistent. Using materials from White et al. and new electron micrographs we assemble whole, self-consistent gap junction and chemical synapse networks of hermaphrodite C. elegans. We propose a method to visualize the wiring diagram, which reflects network signal flow. We calculate statistical and topological properties of the network, such as degree distributions, synaptic multiplicities, and small-world properties, that help in understanding network signal propagation. We identify neurons that may play central roles in information processing, and network motifs that could serve as functional modules of the network. We explore propagation of neuronal activity in response to sensory or artificial stimulation using linear systems theory and find several activity patterns that could serve as substrates of previously described behaviors. Finally, we analyze the interaction between the gap junction and the chemical synapse networks. Since several statistical properties of the C. elegans network, such as multiplicity and motif distributions are similar to those found in mammalian neocortex, they likely point to general principles of neuronal networks. The wiring diagram reported here can help in understanding the mechanistic basis of behavior by generating predictions about future experiments involving genetic perturbations, laser ablations, or monitoring propagation of neuronal activity in response to stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001066
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

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Neuronal Network
Caenorhabditis elegans
Electric wiring
synapse
Synapses
Structural Properties
Structural properties
gap junctions
Gap Junctions
diagram
Synapse
neocortex
Systems Theory
Animals
Diagram
Information Services
Neocortex
Laser Therapy
Gap Junction
Automatic Data Processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

Cite this

Structural properties of the Caenorhabditis elegans neuronal network. / Varshney, Lav R.; Chen, Beth L.; Paniagua, Eric; Hall, David H.; Chklovskii, Dmitri B.

In: PLoS Computational Biology, Vol. 7, No. 2, e1001066, 02.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Varshney, Lav R. ; Chen, Beth L. ; Paniagua, Eric ; Hall, David H. ; Chklovskii, Dmitri B. / Structural properties of the Caenorhabditis elegans neuronal network. In: PLoS Computational Biology. 2011 ; Vol. 7, No. 2.
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