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Single-Cell Transcriptomic Reveals Dual and Multi-Transmitter Use in Neurons Across Metazoans

Authors
  • Brunet Avalos, Clarisse
  • Sprecher, Simon G.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2021
Volume
14
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2021.623148
PMID: 33597849
PMCID: PMC7883486
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Neurotransmitter expression is widely used as a criterion for classifying neurons. It was initially thought that neurons express a single type of neurotransmitter, a phenomenon commonly recognized as Dale's principle: “one neuron, one transmitter.” Consequently, the expression of a single neurotransmitter should determine stable and distinguishable neuronal characteristics. However, this notion has been largely challenged and increasing evidence accumulates supporting a different scenario: “one neuron, multiple neurotransmitters.” Single-cell transcriptomics provides an additional path to address coexpression of neurotransmitters, by investigating the expression of genes involved in the biosynthesis and transmission of fast-acting neuromodulators. Here, we study neuronal phenotypes based on the expression of neurotransmitters, at single-cell resolution, across different animal species representing distinct clades of the tree of life. We take advantage of several existing scRNAseq datasets and analyze them in light of neurotransmitter plasticity. Our results show that while most neurons appear to predominantly express a single type of neurotransmitter, a substantial number of neurons simultaneously expresses a combination of them, across all animal species analyzed.

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