The Unc13A isoform is important for phasic release and olfactory memory formation at mushroom body synapses

Jennifer Woitkuhn, Anatoli Ender, Christine B Beuschel, Marta Maglione, Tanja Matkovic-Rachid, Sheng Huang, Martin Lehmann, Joerg RP Geiger & Stephan J Sigrist

The cellular analysis of mushroom body (MB)-dependent memory forming processes is far advanced, whereas, the molecular and physiological understanding of their synaptic basis lags behind. Recent analysis of the Drosophila olfactory system showed that Unc13A, a member of the M(Unc13) release factor family, promotes a phasic, high release probability component, while Unc13B supports a slower tonic release component, reflecting their different nanoscopic positioning within individual active zones. We here use STED super-resolution microscopy of MB lobe synapses to show that Unc13A clusters closer to the active zone centre than Unc13B. Unc13A specifically supported phasic transmission and short-term plasticity of Kenyon cell:output neuron synapses, measured by combining electrophysiological recordings of output neurons with optogenetic stimulation. Knockdown of unc13A within Kenyon cells provoked drastic deficits of olfactory aversive short-term and anaesthesia-sensitive middle-term memory. Knockdown of unc13B provoked milder memory deficits. Thus, a low frequency domain transmission component is probably crucial for the proper representation of memory-associated activity patterns, consistent with sparse Kenyon cell activation during memory acquisition and retrieval. Notably, Unc13A/B ratios appeared highly diversified across MB lobes, leaving room for an interplay of activity components in memory encoding and retrieval.

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mushroom bodyshort-term plasticitysparse codingsynapse
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