Hub connectivity and gene expression in the worm connectome
A neural systems study published in PLOS: Computational Biology.
By Aurina Arnatkeviciute et al.
The brain is a network forming the basis for our thoughts, behaviours and experiences. It is important to understand the driving forces behind the formation of these networks. By investigating the relationship between brain network connectivity and genetics, we can aim to understand how brain networks are formed and affected in the case of disorders.
C.elegans worm is a unique organism that has a fully mapped nervous system consisting of only a few hundred neurons. This makes it an ideal model animal for detailed brain network analysis. Some elements in brain networks have many more connections than others, which makes them network hubs.
We demonstrated the relationship between gene expression and a small scale neuronal connectivity by showing that hub neurons have similar patterns of gene expression. These findings suggest that the observed genetic similarity of hub neurons is related to their high-level functional properties, as the majority of hub neurons are involved in guiding movement - one of the most complex behaviours expressed by the worm.
Arnatkeviciute, A., Fulcher, B. D., Pocock, R., & Fornito, A. (2018). Hub connectivity, neuronal diversity, and gene expression in the Caenorhabditis elegans connectome. PLOS: Computational Biology. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005989
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