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58 Publications

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    Gonen Lab
    11/01/03 | Insertion of MP20 into lens fibre cell plasma membranes correlates with the formation of an extracellular diffusion barrier.
    Grey AC, Jacobs MD, Gonen T, Kistler J, Donaldson PJ
    Experimental Eye Research. 2003 Nov;77(5):567-74

    It is known that during lens differentiation a number of fibre cell specific membrane proteins change their expression profiles. In this study we have investigated how the profiles of the two most abundant fibre cell membrane proteins AQP0 (formerly known as Major Intrinsic Protein, MIP) and MP20 change as a function of fibre cell differentiation. While AQP0 was always found associated with fibre cell membranes, MP20 was initially found in the cytoplasm of peripheral fibre cells before becoming inserted into the membranes of deeper fibre cells. To determine at what stage in fibre cell differentiation MP20 becomes inserted into the membrane, sections were double-labelled with an antibody against MP20, and propidium iodide, a marker of cell nuclei. This showed that membrane insertion of MP20 occurs in a discrete transition zone that coincided with the degradation of cell nuclei. To test the significance of the membrane insertion of MP20 to overall lens function, whole lenses were incubated for varying times in a solution containing either Texas Red-dextran or Lucifer yellow as markers of extracellular space. Lenses were fixed and then processed for immunocytochemistry. Analysis of these sections showed that both tracer dyes were excluded from the extracellular space in an area that coincided with insertion of MP20 into the plasma membrane. Our results suggest that the insertion of MP20 into fibre cell membranes coincides with the creation of a barrier that restricts the diffusion of molecules into the lens core via the extracellular space.

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    Zuker Lab
    10/31/03 | The receptors for mammalian sweet and umami taste.
    Zhao GQ, Zhang Y, Hoon MA, Chandrashekar J, Erlenbach I, Ryba NJ, Zuker CS
    Cell. 2003 Oct 31;115(3):255-66

    Sweet and umami (the taste of monosodium glutamate) are the main attractive taste modalities in humans. T1Rs are candidate mammalian taste receptors that combine to assemble two heteromeric G-protein-coupled receptor complexes: T1R1+3, an umami sensor, and T1R2+3, a sweet receptor. We now report the behavioral and physiological characterization of T1R1, T1R2, and T1R3 knockout mice. We demonstrate that sweet and umami taste are strictly dependent on T1R-receptors, and show that selective elimination of T1R-subunits differentially abolishes detection and perception of these two taste modalities. To examine the basis of sweet tastant recognition and coding, we engineered animals expressing either the human T1R2-receptor (hT1R2), or a modified opioid-receptor (RASSL) in sweet cells. Expression of hT1R2 in mice generates animals with humanized sweet taste preferences, while expression of RASSL drives strong attraction to a synthetic opiate, demonstrating that sweet cells trigger dedicated behavioral outputs, but their tastant selectivity is determined by the nature of the receptors.

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    Magee Lab
    10/22/03 | Sleep deprivation causes behavioral, synaptic, and membrane excitability alterations in hippocampal neurons.
    McDermott CM, LaHoste GJ, Chen C, Musto A, Bazan NG, Magee JC
    The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2003 Oct 22;23(29):9687-95. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201000254

    Although the function of sleep remains elusive, several lines of evidence suggest that sleep has an important role in learning and memory. In light of the available data and with the prevalence of sleep deprivation (SD), we sought to determine the effect of SD on neuronal functioning. We found that the exposure of rats to 72 hr of primarily rapid eye movement SD impaired their subsequent performance on a hippocampus-dependent spatial learning task but had no effect on an amygdala-dependent learning task. To determine the underlying cellular level mechanisms of this hippocampal deficit, we examined the impact of SD on several fundamental aspects of membrane excitability and synaptic physiology in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons and dentate gyrus granule cells. We found that neuronal excitability was severely reduced in CA1 neurons but not in granule cells and that the production of long-term potentiation of synaptic strength was inhibited in both areas. Using multiple SD methods we further attempted to differentiate the effects of sleep deprivation from those associated with the nonspecific stress induced by the sleep deprivation methods. Together these data suggest that failure to acquire adequate sleep produces several molecular and cellular level alterations that profoundly inhibit hippocampal functioning.

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    10/19/03 | Purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of phosphoglucose isomerase from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus.
    Akerboom J, Turnbull AP, Hargreaves D, Fisher M, de Geus D, Sedelnikova SE, Berrisford JM, Baker PJ, Verhees CH, van der Oost J, Rice DW
    Acta Crystallographica. Section D, Biological Crystallography. 2003 Oct 19;59:1822-3

    The glycolytic enzyme phosphoglucose isomerase catalyses the reversible isomerization of glucose 6-phosphate to fructose 6-phosphate. The phosphoglucose isomerase from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus, which shows no sequence similarity to any known bacterial or eukaryotic phosphoglucose isomerase, has been cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli, purified and subsequently crystallized by the hanging-drop method of vapour diffusion using 1.6 M sodium citrate as the precipitant at pH 6.5. Multiple-wavelength anomalous dispersive X-ray data have been collected to a maximum resolution of 1.92 A on a single selenomethionine-incorporated crystal. This crystal belongs to space group C2, with approximate unit-cell parameters a = 84.7

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    10/15/03 | A test bed for insect-inspired robotic control.
    Reiser MB, Dickinson MH
    Philosophical Transactions. Series A, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering Sciences. 2003 Oct 15;361(1811):2267-85. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.06.072

    Flying insects are remarkable examples of sophisticated sensory-motor control systems. Insects have solved the fundamental challenge facing the field of mobile robots: robust sensory-motor mapping. Control models based on insects can contribute much to the design of robotic control systems. We present our work on a preliminary robotic control system inspired by current behavioural and physiological models of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. We designed a five-degrees-of-freedom robotic system that serves as a novel simulation/mobile robot hybrid. This design has allowed us to implement a fly-inspired control system that uses visual and mechanosensory feedback. Our results suggest that a simple control scheme can yield surprisingly robust fly-like robotic behaviour.

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    10/01/03 | Crystal structure of the nickel-responsive transcription factor NikR.
    Schreiter ER, Sintchak MD, Guo Y, Chivers PT, Sauer RT, Drennan CL
    Nature Structural Biology. 2003 Oct;10(10):794-9. doi: 10.1038/nsb985

    NikR is a metal-responsive transcription factor that controls nickel uptake in Escherichia coli by regulating expression of a nickel-specific ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter. We have determined the first two structures of NikR: the full-length apo repressor at a resolution of 2.3 A and the nickel-bound C-terminal regulatory domain at a resolution of 1.4 A. NikR is the only known metal-responsive member of the ribbon-helix-helix family of transcription factors, and its structure has a quaternary arrangement consisting of two dimeric DNA-binding domains separated by a tetrameric regulatory domain that binds nickel. The position of the C-terminal regulatory domain enforces a large spacing between the contacts that each NikR DNA-binding domain can make with the nik operator. The regulatory domain of NikR contains four nickel-binding sites at the tetramer interface, each exhibiting a novel square-planar coordination by three histidines and one cysteine side chain.

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    10/01/03 | Developmental origin and evolution of bacteriocytes in the aphid-Buchnera symbiosis.
    Braendle C, Miura T, Bickel R, Shingleton AW, Kambhampati S, Stern DL
    PLoS Biol. 2003 Oct;1(1):E21. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0000021

    Symbiotic relationships between bacteria and insect hosts are common. Although the bacterial endosymbionts have been subjected to intense investigation, little is known of the host cells in which they reside, the bacteriocytes. We have studied the development and evolution of aphid bacteriocytes, the host cells that contain the endosymbiotic bacteria Buchnera aphidicola. We show that bacteriocytes of Acyrthosiphon pisum express several gene products (or their paralogues): Distal-less, Ultrabithorax/Abdominal-A, and Engrailed. Using these markers, we find that a subpopulation of the bacteriocytes is specified prior to the transmission of maternal bacteria to the embryo. In addition, we discovered that a second population of cells is recruited to the bacteriocyte fate later in development. We experimentally demonstrate that bacteriocyte induction and proliferation occur independently of B. aphidicola. Major features of bacteriocyte development, including the two-step recruitment of bacteriocytes, have been conserved in aphids for 80-150 million years. Furthermore, we have investigated two cases of evolutionary loss of bacterial symbionts: in one case, where novel extracellular, eukaryotic symbionts replaced the bacteria, the bacteriocyte is maintained; in another case, where symbionts are absent, the bacteriocytes are initiated but not maintained. The bacteriocyte represents an evolutionarily novel cell fate, which is developmentally determined independently of the bacteria. Three of five transcription factors we examined show novel expression patterns in bacteriocytes, suggesting that bacteriocytes may have evolved to express many additional transcription factors. The evolutionary transition to a symbiosis in which bacteria and an aphid cell form a functional unit, similar to the origin of plastids, has apparently involved extensive molecular adaptations on the part of the host cell.

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    Magee Lab
    10/01/03 | Impaired regulation of synaptic strength in hippocampal neurons from GluR1-deficient mice.
    Andrasfalvy BK, Smith MA, Borchardt T, Sprengel R, Magee JC
    The Journal of Physiology. 2003 Oct 1;552(Pt 1):35-45. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201000254

    Neurons of the central nervous system (CNS) exhibit a variety of forms of synaptic plasticity, including associative long-term potentiation and depression (LTP/D), homeostatic activity-dependent scaling and distance-dependent scaling. Regulation of synaptic neurotransmitter receptors is currently thought to be a common mechanism amongst many of these forms of plasticity. In fact, glutamate receptor 1 (GluR1 or GluRA) subunits containing L-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA) receptors have been shown to be required for several forms of hippocampal LTP and a particular hippocampal-dependent learning task. Because of this importance in associative plasticity, we sought to examine the role of these receptors in other forms of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. To do so, we recorded from the apical dendrites of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons in mice lacking the GluR1 subunit (GluR1 -/-). Here we report data from outside-out patches that indicate GluR1-containing receptors are essential to the extrasynaptic population of AMPA receptors, as this pool was nearly empty in the GluR1 -/- mice. Additionally, these receptors appear to be a significant component of the synaptic glutamate receptor pool because the amplitude of spontaneous synaptic currents recorded at the site of input and synaptic AMPA receptor currents evoked by focal glutamate uncaging were both substantially reduced in these mice. Interestingly, the impact on synaptic weight was greatest at distant synapses such that the normal distance-dependent synaptic scaling used by these cells to counter dendritic attenuation was lacking in GluR1 -/- mice. Together the data suggest that the highly regulated movement of GluR1-containing AMPA receptors between extrasynaptic and synaptic receptor pools is critically involved in establishing two functionally diverse forms of synaptic plasticity: LTP and distance-dependent scaling.

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    09/11/03 | In vivo imaging of C. elegans mechanosensory neurons demonstrates a specific role for the MEC-4 channel in the process of gentle touch sensation.
    Suzuki H, Kerr R, Bianchi L, Frøkjaer-Jensen C, Slone D, Xue J, Gerstbrein B, Driscoll M, Schafer WR
    Neuron. 2003 Sep 11;39(6):1005-17

    In the nematode C. elegans, genes encoding components of a putative mechanotransducing channel complex have been identified in screens for light-touch-insensitive mutants. A long-standing question, however, is whether identified MEC proteins act directly in touch transduction or contribute indirectly by maintaining basic mechanoreceptor neuron physiology. In this study, we used the genetically encoded calcium indicator cameleon to record cellular responses of mechanosensory neurons to touch stimuli in intact, behaving nematodes. We defined a gentle touch sensory modality that adapts with a time course of approximately 500 ms and primarily senses motion rather than pressure. The DEG/ENaC channel subunit MEC-4 and channel-associated stomatin MEC-2 are specifically required for neural responses to gentle mechanical stimulation but do not affect the basic physiology of touch neurons or their in vivo responses to harsh mechanical stimulation. These results distinguish a specific role for the MEC channel proteins in the process of gentle touch mechanosensation.

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    09/05/03 | Visualization of the domain structure of an L-type Ca2+ channel using electron cryo-microscopy.
    Wolf M, Eberhart A, Glossmann H, Striessnig J, Grigorieff N
    Journal of Molecular Biology. 2003 Sep 05;332(1):171-82

    The three-dimensional structure of the skeletal muscle voltage-gated L-type calcium channel (Ca(v)1.1; dihydropyridine receptor, DHPR) was determined using electron cryo-microscopy and single-particle averaging. The structure shows a single channel complex with an approximate total molecular mass of 550 kDa, corresponding to the five known subunits of the DHPR, and bound detergent and lipid. Features visible in our structure together with antibody labeling of the beta and alpha(2) subunits allowed us to assign locations for four of the five subunits within the structure. The most striking feature of the structure is the extra-cellular alpha(2) subunit that protrudes from the membrane domain in close proximity to the alpha(1) subunit. The cytosolic beta subunit is located close to the membrane and adjacent to subunits alpha(1), gamma and delta. Our structure correlates well with the functional and biochemical data available for this channel and suggests a three-dimensional model for the excitation-contraction coupling complex consisting of DHPR tetrads and the calcium release channel.

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