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CANALOHMICS Report Summary

Project ID: 616827
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: France

Mid-Term Report Summary - CANALOHMICS (Biophysical networks underlying the robustness of neuronal excitability)

Neuronal activity is produced by the combined function of many different types of ion channels, and most often a single well-identified type of neurons expresses 20-25 subtypes of ion channels. Undoubtedly, maintaining a stable pattern of activity across long periods of time requires a precise tuning of the expression of these functionally-overlapping ion channels. We started to decipher the expression profile of ion channels in dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta using single-neuron transcriptomics in order to related the variations in expression of these genes to the variation of the electrical phenotype of these neurons. Using algebraic topology and mutual information algorithms to analyze the data, we found that dopaminergic neurons display non-random profiles of expression of ion channels relying on high-order dependences in the expression levels of these genes. We moreover found that not only are several ion channel mRNAs sharing strong positive mutual information, but they are also sharing positive mutual information with genes involved in defining the dopaminergic identity of these neurons. Our data show that only mutual information analysis can reveal the structure of these expression profiles, although it has not been used so far in a satisfactory manner in transcriptomics data. Our data suggest in fact that the patterns of expression profiles in ion channels and other genes depict the structural stability of phenotype likely underlying robustness of neuronal activity.

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