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DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.23.541971

Functional Subtypes of Synaptic Dynamics in Mouse and Human

J.Beninger J. Rossbroich K. Toth R. Naud
Synapses show preferential responses to particular temporal patterns of activity. Across individual synapses, there is a large degree of response heterogeneity that is informally or tacitly separated into classes, and typically only two: facilitating and depressing short-term plasticity. Here we combined a kernel-based model and machine learning techniques to infer the number and the characteristics of functionally distinct subtypes of short-term synaptic dynamics in a large dataset of glutamatergic cortical connections. To this end, we took two independent approaches. First, we used unsupervised techniques to group similar synapses into clusters. Second, we used supervised prediction of cell subclasses to reveal features of synaptic dynamics that characterized cellular genetic profiles. In rodent data, we found five clusters with a remarkable degree of convergence with the transgenic-associated subtypes. Two of these clusters corresponded to different degrees of facilitation, two corresponded to depression with different degrees of variability and one corresponded to depression-then-facilitation. Strikingly, the application of the same clustering method in human data inferred highly similar clusters to those observed in rodents, supportive of a stable clustering procedure and suggesting a homology of functional subtypes across species. This nuanced dictionary of functional subtypes shapes the heterogeneity of cortical synaptic dynamics and provides a lens into the basic motifs of information transmission in the brain.