In this resource-building, map-mapping proposal, we propose to decode the molecular composition of the electrical synapse network (?electrical connectome?) of the nematode C.elegans. Its >1,000 synaptic connection, made between 302 neurons, are likely generated by 12 distinct, electrical synapse forming proteins, called innexins, that assemble into distinct channel complexes. We propose to map the expression and localization pattern of all 12 neuronal innexin genes throughout the entire nervous system, with single neuron resolution and we propose to assign specific innexins to specific electrical synapses. Our work will lay the groundwork for understanding how the electrical connectome is established and for ensuing functional studies that probe the function of individual electrical synapses.
One means of communication between neurons in the brain is via electrical synapses. While this notion is generally well appreciated, the precise molecular composition, the mechanisms of formation and the function of individual electrical synapses is still poorly understood. In this resource-building grant proposal we set out to decode the molecular composition of electrical synapses throughout the nervous system of a simple invertebrate model system, which will pave the way for future analysis of the development and function of electrical synapses.