Network oscillation rules imposed by species-specific electrical coupling

Elife. 2018 May 3:7:e33144. doi: 10.7554/eLife.33144.


Electrical junctions are widespread within the mammalian CNS. Yet, their role in organizing neuronal ensemble activity remains incompletely understood. Here, in a functionally well-characterized system - neuroendocrine tuberoinfundibular dopamine (TIDA) neurons - we demonstrate a striking species difference in network behavior: rat TIDA cells discharge in highly stereotyped, robust, synchronized slow oscillations, whereas mouse oscillations are faster, flexible and show substantial cell-to-cell variability. We show that these distinct operational modes are explained by the presence of strong TIDA-TIDA gap junction coupling in the rat, and its complete absence in the mouse. Both species, however, encompass a similar heterogeneous range of intrinsic resonance frequencies, suggesting similar network building blocks. We demonstrate that gap junctions select and impose the slow network rhythm. These data identify a role for electrical junctions in determining oscillation frequency and show how related species can rely on distinct network strategies to accomplish adaptive control of hormone release.

Keywords: dopamine; gap junctions; mouse; neural network; neuroendocrine; neuroscience; oscillation; rat; species difference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks*
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats