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30 Publications

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    04/02/22 | Hierarchical architecture of dopaminergic circuits enables second-order conditioning in Drosophila
    Daichi Yamada , Daniel Bushey , Li Feng , Karen Hibbard , Megan Sammons , Jan Funke , Ashok Litwin-Kumar , Toshihide Hige , Yoshinori Aso
    bioRxiv. 2022 Apr 02:. doi: 10.1101/2022.03.30.486484

    Dopaminergic neurons with distinct projection patterns and physiological properties compose memory subsystems in a brain. However, it is poorly understood whether or how they interact during complex learning. Here, we identify a feedforward circuit formed between dopamine subsystems and show that it is essential for second-order conditioning, an ethologically important form of higher-order associative learning. The Drosophila mushroom body comprises a series of dopaminergic compartments, each of which exhibits distinct memory dynamics. We find that a slow and stable memory compartment can serve as an effective “teacher” by instructing other faster and transient memory compartments via a single key interneuron, which we identify by connectome analysis and neurotransmitter prediction. This excitatory interneuron acquires enhanced response to reward-predicting odor after first-order conditioning and, upon activation, evokes dopamine release in the “student” compartments. These hierarchical connections between dopamine subsystems explain distinct properties of first- and second-order memory long known by behavioral psychologists.

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    12/14/20 | The connectome of the adult mushroom body provides insights into function.
    Li F, Lindsey JW, Marin EC, Otto N, Dreher M, Dempsey G, Stark I, Bates AS, Pleijzier MW, Schlegel P, Nern A, Takemura S, Eckstein N, Yang T, Francis A, Braun A, Parekh R, Costa M, Scheffer LK, Aso Y, Jefferis GS, Abbott LF, Litwin-Kumar A, Waddell S, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2020 Dec 14;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.62576

    Making inferences about the computations performed by neuronal circuits from synapse-level connectivity maps is an emerging opportunity in neuroscience. The mushroom body (MB) is well positioned for developing and testing such an approach due to its conserved neuronal architecture, recently completed dense connectome, and extensive prior experimental studies of its roles in learning, memory and activity regulation. Here we identify new components of the MB circuit in , including extensive visual input and MB output neurons (MBONs) with direct connections to descending neurons. We find unexpected structure in sensory inputs, in the transfer of information about different sensory modalities to MBONs, and in the modulation of that transfer by dopaminergic neurons (DANs). We provide insights into the circuitry used to integrate MB outputs, connectivity between the MB and the central complex and inputs to DANs, including feedback from MBONs. Our results provide a foundation for further theoretical and experimental work.

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    11/03/20 | Cell types and neuronal circuitry underlying female aggression in Drosophila.
    Schretter CE, Aso Y, Robie AA, Dreher M, Dolan M, Chen N, Ito M, Yang T, Parekh R, Branson KM, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2020 Nov 03;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58942

    Aggressive social interactions are used to compete for limited resources and are regulated by complex sensory cues and the organism's internal state. While both sexes exhibit aggression, its neuronal underpinnings are understudied in females. Here, we identify a population of sexually dimorphic aIPg neurons in the adult central brain whose optogenetic activation increased, and genetic inactivation reduced, female aggression. Analysis of GAL4 lines identified in an unbiased screen for increased female chasing behavior revealed the involvement of another sexually dimorphic neuron, pC1d, and implicated aIPg and pC1d neurons as core nodes regulating female aggression. Connectomic analysis demonstrated that aIPg neurons and pC1d are interconnected and suggest that aIPg neurons may exert part of their effect by gating the flow of visual information to descending neurons. Our work reveals important regulatory components of the neuronal circuitry that underlies female aggressive social interactions and provides tools for their manipulation.

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    04/07/20 | Conservation and divergence of related neuronal lineages in the central brain.
    Lee Y, Yang C, Miyares RL, Huang Y, He Y, Ren Q, Chen H, Kawase T, Ito M, Otsuna H, Sugino K, Aso Y, Ito K, Lee T
    eLife. 2020 Apr 07;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.53518

    Wiring a complex brain requires many neurons with intricate cell specificity, generated by a limited number of neural stem cells. central brain lineages are a predetermined series of neurons, born in a specific order. To understand how lineage identity translates to neuron morphology, we mapped 18 central brain lineages. While we found large aggregate differences between lineages, we also discovered shared patterns of morphological diversification. Lineage identity plus Notch-mediated sister fate govern primary neuron trajectories, whereas temporal fate diversifies terminal elaborations. Further, morphological neuron types may arise repeatedly, interspersed with other types. Despite the complexity, related lineages produce similar neuron types in comparable temporal patterns. Different stem cells even yield two identical series of dopaminergic neuron types, but with unrelated sister neurons. Together, these phenomena suggest that straightforward rules drive incredible neuronal complexity, and that large changes in morphology can result from relatively simple fating mechanisms.

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    03/01/20 | Toward nanoscale localization of memory engrams in Drosophila.
    Aso Y, Rubin GM
    Journal of Neurogenetics. 2020 Mar 01;34(1):151-55. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2020.1715973

    The Mushroom Body (MB) is the primary location of stored associative memories in the Drosophila brain. We discuss recent advances in understanding the MB's neuronal circuits made using advanced light microscopic methods and cell-type-specific genetic tools. We also review how the compartmentalized nature of the MB's organization allows this brain area to form and store memories with widely different dynamics.

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    11/14/19 | Nitric oxide acts as a cotransmitter in a subset of dopaminergic neurons to diversify memory dynamics.
    Aso Y, Ray RP, Long X, Bushey D, Cichewicz K, Ngo T, Sharp B, Christoforou C, Hu A, Lemire AL, Tillberg P, Hirsh J, Litwin-Kumar A, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2019 Nov 14;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.49257

    Animals employ diverse learning rules and synaptic plasticity dynamics to record temporal and statistical information about the world. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this diversity are poorly understood. The anatomically defined compartments of the insect mushroom body function as parallel units of associative learning, with different learning rates, memory decay dynamics and flexibility (Aso & Rubin 2016). Here we show that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a neurotransmitter in a subset of dopaminergic neurons in . NO's effects develop more slowly than those of dopamine and depend on soluble guanylate cyclase in postsynaptic Kenyon cells. NO acts antagonistically to dopamine; it shortens memory retention and facilitates the rapid updating of memories. The interplay of NO and dopamine enables memories stored in local domains along Kenyon cell axons to be specialized for predicting the value of odors based only on recent events. Our results provide key mechanistic insights into how diverse memory dynamics are established in parallel memory systems.

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    05/21/19 | Neurogenetic dissection of the lateral horn reveals major outputs, diverse behavioural functions, and interactions with the mushroom body.
    Dolan M, Frechter S, Bates AS, Dan C, Huoviala P, Roberts RJ, Schlegel P, Dhawan S, Tabano R, Dionne H, Christoforou C, Close K, Sutcliffe B, Giuliani B, Li F, Costa M, Ihrke G, Meissner GW, Bock DD, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Jefferis GS
    Elife. 2019 May 21;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.43079

    Animals exhibit innate behaviours to a variety of sensory stimuli including olfactory cues. In , one higher olfactory centre, the lateral horn (LH), is implicated in innate behaviour. However, our structural and functional understanding of the LH is scant, in large part due to a lack of sparse neurogenetic tools for this region. We generate a collection of split-GAL4 driver lines providing genetic access to 82 LH cell types. We use these to create an anatomical and neurotransmitter map of the LH and link this to EM connectomics data. We find ~30% of LH projections converge with outputs from the mushroom body, site of olfactory learning and memory. Using optogenetic activation, we identify LH cell types that drive changes in valence behavior or specific locomotor programs. In summary, we have generated a resource for manipulating and mapping LH neurons, providing new insights into the circuit basis of innate and learned olfactory behavior.

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    01/18/19 | Cortical column and whole-brain imaging with molecular contrast and nanoscale resolution.
    Gao R, Asano SM, Upadhyayula S, Pisarev I, Milkie DE, Liu T, Singh V, Graves AR, Huynh GH, Zhao Y, Bogovic JA, Colonell J, Ott CM, Zugates CT, Tappan S, Rodriguez A, Mosaliganti KR, Sheu S, Pasolli HA, et al
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2019 Jan 18;363(6424):eaau8302. doi: 10.1126/science.aau8302

    Optical and electron microscopy have made tremendous inroads toward understanding the complexity of the brain. However, optical microscopy offers insufficient resolution to reveal subcellular details, and electron microscopy lacks the throughput and molecular contrast to visualize specific molecular constituents over millimeter-scale or larger dimensions. We combined expansion microscopy and lattice light-sheet microscopy to image the nanoscale spatial relationships between proteins across the thickness of the mouse cortex or the entire Drosophila brain. These included synaptic proteins at dendritic spines, myelination along axons, and presynaptic densities at dopaminergic neurons in every fly brain region. The technology should enable statistically rich, large-scale studies of neural development, sexual dimorphism, degree of stereotypy, and structural correlations to behavior or neural activity, all with molecular contrast.

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    09/19/18 | Communication from learned to innate olfactory processing centers is required for memory retrieval in Drosophila.
    Dolan M, Belliart-Guérin G, Bates AS, Frechter S, Lampin-Saint-Amaux A, Aso Y, Roberts RJ, Schlegel P, Wong A, Hammad A, Bock D, Rubin GM, Preat T, Placais P, Jefferis GS
    Neuron. 2018 Sep 19;100(3):651-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.08.037

    The behavioral response to a sensory stimulus may depend on both learned and innate neuronal representations. How these circuits interact to produce appropriate behavior is unknown. In Drosophila, the lateral horn (LH) and mushroom body (MB) are thought to mediate innate and learned olfactory behavior, respectively, although LH function has not been tested directly. Here we identify two LH cell types (PD2a1 and PD2b1) that receive input from an MB output neuron required for recall of aversive olfactory memories. These neurons are required for aversive memory retrieval and modulated by training. Connectomics data demonstrate that PD2a1 and PD2b1 neurons also receive direct input from food odor-encoding neurons. Consistent with this, PD2a1 and PD2b1 are also necessary for unlearned attraction to some odors, indicating that these neurons have a dual behavioral role. This provides a circuit mechanism by which learned and innate olfactory information can interact in identified neurons to produce appropriate behavior.

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    08/26/18 | Neural circuit basis of aversive odour processing in drosophila from sensory input to descending output.
    Paavo Huoviala , Michael-John Dolan , Fiona M. Love , Shahar Frechter , Ruairí J.V. Roberts , Zane Mitrevica , Philipp Schlegel , Alexander Shakeel Bates , Yoshinori Aso , Tiago Rodrigues , Hannah Cornwall , Marcus Stensmyr , Davi Bock , Gerald M. Rubin , Marta Costa , Gregory S.X.E. Jefferis
    bioRxiv. 2018 Aug 26:. doi: 10.1101/394403

    Evolution has tuned the nervous system of most animals to produce stereotyped behavioural responses to ethologically relevant stimuli. For example, female Drosophila avoid laying eggs in the presence of geosmin, an odorant produced by toxic moulds. Using this system, we now identify third order olfactory neurons that are essential for an innate aversive behaviour. Connectomics data place these neurons in the context of a complete synaptic circuit from sensory input to descending output. We find multiple levels of valence-specific convergence, including a novel form of axo-axonic input onto second order neurons conveying another danger signal, the pheromone of parasitoid wasps. However we also observe a massive divergence as geosmin-responsive second order olfactory neurons connect with a diverse array of ∼75 cell types. Our data suggest a transition from a labelled line organisation in the periphery to one in which olfactory information is mapped onto many different higher order populations with distinct behavioural significance.

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