Distinct synaptic transfer functions in same-type photoreceptors

Cornelius Schröder, Jonathan Oesterle, Philipp Berens, Takeshi Yoshimatsu, Tom Baden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many sensory systems use ribbon-type synapses to transmit their signals to downstream circuits. The properties of this synaptic transfer fundamentally dictate which aspects in the original stimulus will be accentuated or suppressed, thereby partially defining the detection limits of the circuit. Accordingly, sensory neurons have evolved a wide variety of ribbon geometries and vesicle pool properties to best support their diverse functional requirements. However, the need for diverse synaptic functions does not only arise across neuron types, but also within. Here we show that UV-cones, a single type of photoreceptor of the larval zebrafish eye, exhibit striking differences in their synaptic ultrastructure and consequent calcium to glutamate transfer function depending on their location in the eye. We arrive at this conclusion by combining serial section electron microscopy and simultaneous ‘dual-colour’ two-photon imaging of calcium and glutamate signals from the same synapse in vivo. We further use the functional dataset to fit a cascade-like model of the ribbon synapse with different vesicle pool sizes, transfer rates, and other synaptic properties. Exploiting recent developments in simulation-based inference, we obtain full posterior estimates for the parameters and compare these across different retinal regions. The model enables us to extrapolate to new stimuli and to systematically investigate different response behaviours of various ribbon configurations. We also provide an interactive, easy-to-use version of this model as an online tool. Overall, we show that already on the synaptic level of single-neuron types there exist highly specialised mechanisms which are advantageous for the encoding of different visual features.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere67851
JournaleLife
Volume10
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

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