Species-specific differences in synaptic transmission and plasticity


  • P. Beed
  • S. Ray
  • L.M. Velasquez
  • A. Stumpf
  • D. Parthier
  • A. Swaminathan
  • N. Nitzan
  • J. Breustedt
  • L. Las
  • M. Brecht
  • D. Schmitz


  • Scientific Reports


  • Sci Rep 10 (1): 16557


  • Synaptic transmission and plasticity in the hippocampus are integral factors in learning and memory. While there has been intense investigation of these critical mechanisms in the brain of rodents, we lack a broader understanding of the generality of these processes across species. We investigated one of the smallest animals with conserved hippocampal macroanatomy—the Etruscan shrew, and found that while synaptic properties and plasticity in CA1 Schaffer collateral synapses were similar to mice, CA3 mossy fiber synapses showed striking differences in synaptic plasticity between shrews and mice. Shrew mossy fibers have lower long term plasticity compared to mice. Short term plasticity and the expression of a key protein involved in it, synaptotagmin 7 were also markedly lower at the mossy fibers in shrews than in mice. We also observed similar lower expression of synaptotagmin 7 in the mossy fibers of bats that are evolutionarily closer to shrews than mice. Species specific differences in synaptic plasticity and the key molecules regulating it, highlight the evolutionary divergence of neuronal circuit functions.