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The Multilayer Connectome of Caenorhabditis elegans

Bentley, Barry; Branicky, Robyn; Barnes, Christopher L.; Chew, Yee Lian; Yemini, Eviatar; Bullmore, Edward T.; Vértes, Petra E.; Schafer, William R.

Connectomics has focused primarily on the mapping of synaptic links in the brain; yet it is well established that extrasynaptic volume transmission, especially via monoamines and neuropeptides, is also critical to brain function and occurs primarily outside the synaptic connectome. We have mapped the putative monoamine connections, as well as a subset of neuropeptide connections, in C. elegans based on new and published gene expression data. The monoamine and neuropeptide networks exhibit distinct topological properties, with the monoamine network displaying a highly disassortative star-like structure with a rich-club of interconnected broadcasting hubs, and the neuropeptide network showing a more recurrent, highly clustered topology. Despite the low degree of overlap between the extrasynaptic (or wireless) and synaptic (or wired) connectomes, we find highly significant multilink motifs of interaction, pinpointing locations in the network where aminergic and neuropeptide signalling modulate synaptic activity. Thus, the C. elegans connectome can be mapped as a multiplex network with synaptic, gap junction, and neuromodulator layers representing alternative modes of interaction between neurons. This provides a new topological plan for understanding how aminergic and peptidergic modulation of behaviour is achieved by specific motifs and loci of integration between hard-wired synaptic or junctional circuits and extrasynaptic signals wirelessly broadcast from a small number of modulatory neurons.

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Title
PLoS Computational Biology
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005283

More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Published Here
February 8, 2017
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