A gap junction circuit enhances processing of coincident mechanosensory inputs

Ithai Rabinowitch, Marios Chatzigeorgiou, William R. Schafer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Electrical synapses have been shown to be important for enabling and detecting neuronal synchrony in both vertebrates [1-4] and invertebrates [5, 6]. Hub-and-spoke circuits, in which a central hub neuron is electrically coupled to several input neurons, are an overrepresented motif in the C. elegans nervous system [7] and may represent a conserved functional unit. The functional relevance of this configuration has been demonstrated for circuits mediating aggregation behavior [8] and nose touch perception [9]. Modeling approaches have been useful for understanding structurally and dynamically more complex electrical circuits [10, 11]. Therefore, we formulated a simple analytical model with minimal assumptions to obtain insight into the properties of the hub-and-spoke microcircuit motif. A key prediction of the model is that an active input neuron should facilitate activity throughout the network, whereas an inactive input should suppress network activity through shunting; this prediction was supported by cell ablation and in vivo neuroimaging experiments in the C. elegans nose touch circuit. Thus, the hub-and-spoke architecture may implement an analog coincidence detector enabling distinct responses to distributed and localized patterns of sensory input.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)963-967
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center and Robyn Branicky for strains and Robyn Branicky and Cori Bargmann for comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (grant MC-A022-5PB91, to W.R.S.) and by an Israeli Science Foundation Bikura fellowship to I.R.


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