Mixed synapses reconcile violations of the size principle in zebrafish spinal cord

Evdokia Menelaou, Sandeep Kishore, David L. McLean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mixed electrical-chemical synapses potentially complicate electrophysiological interpretations of neuronal excitability and connectivity. Here, we disentangle the impact of mixed synapses within the spinal locomotor circuitry of larval zebrafish. We demonstrate that soma size is not linked to input resistance for interneurons, contrary to the biophysical predictions of the ‘size principle’ for motor neurons. Next, we show that time constants are faster, excitatory currents stronger, and mixed potentials larger in lower resistance neurons, linking mixed synapse density to resting excitability. Using a computational model, we verify the impact of weighted electrical synapses on membrane properties, synaptic integration and the low-pass filtering and distribution of coupling potentials. We conclude differences in mixed synapse density can contribute to excitability underestimations and connectivity overestimations. The contribution of mixed synaptic inputs to resting excitability helps explain ‘violations’ of the size principle, where neuron size, resistance and recruitment order are unrelated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere64063
StatePublished - Sep 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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