Functional network inference of the suprachiasmatic nucleus

In the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), noisy cellular oscillators communicate within a neuronal network to generate precise system-wide circadian rhythms. Although the intracellular genetic oscillator and intercellular biochemical coupling mecha- nisms have been examined previously, the network topology driving synchronization of the SCN has not been elucidated. This network has been particularly challenging to probe, due to its oscillatory components and slow coupling timescale. In this work, we investigated the SCN network at a single-cell resolution through a chemically induced desynchronization. We then inferred functional connections in the SCN by applying the maximal information co- efficient statistic to bioluminescence reporter data from individual neurons while they resynchronized their circadian cycling. Our results demonstrate that the functional network of circadian cells associated with resynchronization has small-world characteristics, with a node degree distribution that is exponential. We show that hubs of this small-world network are preferentially located in the central SCN, with sparsely connected shells surrounding these cores. Finally, we used two computational models of circadian neurons to validate our predictions of network structure.

Abel, J. H., Meeker, K., St. John, P. C., Granados-Fuentes, D., Wang, T., Bales, B. B., Doyle, F. J., Herzog, E. D. and Petzold, L. R.
PNAS
Volume: 113
Number: 16
Pages: 4512-4517
Date: April, 2016
ICB Affiliated Authors: Linda R Petzold, Francis J Doyle III