Although the response properties of most neurons are, to a large extent, determined by the presynaptic inputs that they receive, comprehensive functional characterization of the presynaptic inputs of a single neuron remains elusive. Toward this goal, we introduce a dual-color calcium imaging approach that simultaneously monitors the responses of a single postsynaptic neuron together with its presynaptic axon terminal inputs in vivo. As a model system, we applied the strategy to the feed-forward connections from the projection neurons (PNs) to the Kenyon cells (KCs) in the mushroom body of Drosophila and functionally mapped essentially all PN inputs for some of the KCs. We found that the output of single KCs could be well predicted by a linear summation of the PN input signals, indicating that excitatory PN inputs play the major role in generating odor-selective responses in KCs. When odors failed to activate KC output, local calcium transients restricted to individual postsynaptic sites could be observed in the KC dendrites. The response amplitudes of the local transients often correlated linearly with the presynaptic response amplitudes, allowing direct assay of the strength of single synaptic sites. Furthermore, we found a scaling relationship between the total number of PN terminals that a single KC received and the average synaptic strength of these PN-KC synapses. Our strategy provides a unique perspective on the process of information transmission and integration in a model neural circuit and may be broadly applicable for the study of the origin of neuronal response properties.
Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research
Choose a citation style from the tabs below