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Aso Lab / Publications
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12 Publications

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    09/18/23 | Neural circuit mechanisms for transforming learned olfactory valences into wind-oriented movement
    Yoshinori Aso , Daichi Yamada , Daniel Bushey , Karen Hibbard , Megan Sammons , Hideo Otsuna , Yichun Shuai , Toshihide Hige
    eLife. 2023 Sep 18:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.85756

    How memories are used by the brain to guide future action is poorly understood. In olfactory associative learning in Drosophila, multiple compartments of the mushroom body act in parallel to assign valence to a stimulus. Here, we show that appetitive memories stored in different compartments induce different levels of upwind locomotion. Using a photoactivation screen of a new collection of split-GAL4 drivers and EM connectomics, we identified a cluster of neurons postsynaptic to the mushroom body output neurons (MBONs) that can trigger robust upwind steering. These UpWind Neurons (UpWiNs) integrate inhibitory and excitatory synaptic inputs from MBONs of appetitive and aversive memory compartments, respectively. After training, disinhibition from the appetitive-memory MBONs enhances the response of UpWiNs to reward-predicting odors. Blocking UpWiNs impaired appetitive memory and reduced upwind locomotion during retrieval. Photoactivation of UpWiNs also increased the chance of returning to a location where activation was initiated, suggesting an additional role in olfactory navigation. Thus, our results provide insight into how learned abstract valences are gradually transformed into concrete memory-driven actions through divergent and convergent networks, a neuronal architecture that is commonly found in the vertebrate and invertebrate brains.

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    06/26/23 | New genetic tools for mushroom body output neurons in Drosophila
    Rubin GM, Aso Y
    bioRxiv. 2023 Jun 26:. doi: 10.1101/2023.06.23.546330

    How memories of past events influence behavior is a key question in neuroscience. The major associative learning center in Drosophila, the Mushroom Body (MB), communicates to the rest of the brain through Mushroom Body Output Neurons (MBONs). While 21 MBON cell types have their dendrites confined to small compartments of the MB lobes, analysis of EM connectomes revealed the presence of an additional 14 MBON cell types that are atypical in having dendritic input both within the MB lobes and in adjacent brain regions. Genetic reagents for manipulating atypical MBONs and experimental data on their functions has been lacking. In this report we describe new cell-type-specific GAL4 drivers for many MBONs, including the majority of atypical MBONs. Using these genetic reagents, we conducted optogenetic activation screening to examine their ability to drive behaviors and learning. These reagents provide important new tools for the study of complex behaviors in Drosophila.

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    02/23/23 | A searchable image resource of Drosophila GAL4-driver expression patterns with single neuron resolution.
    Meissner GW, Nern A, Dorman Z, Depasquale GM, Forster K, Gibney T, Hausenfluck JH, He Y, Iyer NA, Jeter J, Johnson L, Johnston RM, Lee K, Melton B, Yarbrough B, Zugates CT, Clements J, Goina C, Otsuna H, Rokicki K, Svirskas RR, Aso Y, Card GM, Dickson BJ, Ehrhardt E, Goldammer J, Ito M, Kainmueller D, Korff W, Mais L, minegishi r, Namiki S, Rubin GM, Sterne GR, Wolff T, Malkesman O
    eLife. 2023 Feb 23;12:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.80660

    Precise, repeatable genetic access to specific neurons via GAL4/UAS and related methods is a key advantage of Drosophila neuroscience. Neuronal targeting is typically documented using light microscopy of full GAL4 expression patterns, which generally lack the single-cell resolution required for reliable cell type identification. Here we use stochastic GAL4 labeling with the MultiColor FlpOut approach to generate cellular resolution confocal images at large scale. We are releasing aligned images of 74,000 such adult central nervous systems. An anticipated use of this resource is to bridge the gap between neurons identified by electron or light microscopy. Identifying individual neurons that make up each GAL4 expression pattern improves the prediction of split-GAL4 combinations targeting particular neurons. To this end we have made the images searchable on the NeuronBridge website. We demonstrate the potential of NeuronBridge to rapidly and effectively identify neuron matches based on morphology across imaging modalities and datasets.

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    01/24/23 | 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
    eLife. 2023 Jan 24:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.79042

    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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    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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    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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