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Electrotonic Clusters in the Dendritic Arborization of Abducens Motoneurons of the Rat

Authors

  • S. Korogod,

    1. 1Research Laboratory of Biophysics and Bioelectronics, Dniepropetrovsk State University, 72 Gagarin Avenue, 320625 GSP, Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine
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  • H. Bras,

    1. 2Unité de Neurocybernétique Cellulaire, CNRS UPR 418, 280 Bd Sainte-Marguerite, 13009 Marseille, France
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  • V. N. Sarana,

    1. 1Research Laboratory of Biophysics and Bioelectronics, Dniepropetrovsk State University, 72 Gagarin Avenue, 320625 GSP, Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine
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  • P. Gogan,

    1. 2Unité de Neurocybernétique Cellulaire, CNRS UPR 418, 280 Bd Sainte-Marguerite, 13009 Marseille, France
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  • S. Tyc-Dumont

    Corresponding author
    1. 1Research Laboratory of Biophysics and Bioelectronics, Dniepropetrovsk State University, 72 Gagarin Avenue, 320625 GSP, Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine
    2. 2Unité de Neurocybernétique Cellulaire, CNRS UPR 418, 280 Bd Sainte-Marguerite, 13009 Marseille, France
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Correspondence to: Dr Suzanne Tyc-Dumont, as above

Abstract

Following reconstruction with high spatial resolution of the 3-D geometry of the dendritic arborizations of two abducens motoneurons, we simulated the distribution of electrotonic voltage over the whole dendritic tree. Here, we demonstrate that the complex stochastic electrotonic structure of both motoneurons can be reduced to a statistically significant small set of well discriminated clusters. These clusters are formed by dendritic branches belonging to different dendrites of the neuron but with similar electrotonic properties. A cluster analysis was performed to estimate quantitatively the partition of the branches between the dendritic clusters. The contents of the clusters were analysed in relation to their stability under different values of specific membrane resistivity (Rm), to their remoteness from the soma and their location in 3-D space. The cluster analysis was executed in a 2-D parameter space in which each dendritic branch was described by the mean electrotonic voltage and gradient. The number of clusters was found to be four for each motoneuron when computations were made with Rm= 3 kΩ.cm2. An analysis of the cluster composition under different Rm revealed that each cluster contained invariant and variant branches. Mapping the clusters upon the dendritic geometry of the arborizations allowed us to describe the cluster distribution in terms of the 3-D space domain, the 2-D path distance domain and the total surface area of the tree. As the cluster behaviour reflects both the geometry and the changes in the neuronal electrotonic structure, we conclude that cluster analysis provides a tool to handle the functional complexity of the arborizations without losing relevant information. In terms of synaptic activities, the stable dendritic branches in each cluster may process the synaptic inputs in a similar manner. The high percentage of stable branches indicates that geometry is a major factor of stability for the electrotonic clusters. Conversely, the variant branches introduce the conditions for mechanisms of functional postsynaptic plasticity.

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