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157 Publications

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    Truman LabRiddiford Lab
    12/30/09 | The role of the pupal determinant broad during embryonic development of a direct-developing insect.
    Erezyilmaz DF, Rynerson MR, Truman JW, Riddiford LM
    Development Genes & Evolution. 2009 Dec 30;219(11-12):535-44. doi: 10.1007/s00427-009-0315-7

    Metamorphosis is one of the most common, yet dramatic of life history strategies. In insects, complete metamorphosis with morphologically distinct larval stages arose from hemimetabolous ancestors that were more direct developing. Over the past century, several ideas have emerged that suggest the holometabolous pupa is developmentally homologous to the embryonic stages of the hemimetabolous ancestor. Other theories consider the pupal stage to be a modification of a hemimetabolous nymph. To address this question, we have isolated an ortholog of the pupal determinant, broad (br), from the hemimetabolous milkweed bug and examined its role during embryonic development. We show that Oncopeltus fasciatus br (Of’br) is expressed in two phases. The first occurs during germ band invagination and segmentation when Of’br is expressed ubiquitously in the embryonic tissues. The second phase of Of’br expression appears during the pronymphal phase of embryogenesis and persists through nymphal differentiation to decline just before hatching. Knock-down of Of’br transcripts results in defects that range from posterior truncations in the least-affected phenotypes to completely fragmented embryonic tissues in the most severe cases. Analysis of the patterning genes engrailed and hunchback reveal loss of segments and a failure in neural differentiation after Of’br depletion. Finally, we show that br is constitutively expressed during embyrogenesis of the ametabolous firebrat, Thermobia domestica. This suggests that br expression is prominent during embryonic development of ametabolous and hemimetabolous insects but was lost with the emergence of the completely metamorphosing insects.

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    12/29/09 | Preferential ethanol consumption in Drosophila models features of addiction.
    Devineni AV, Heberlein U
    Current Biology. 2009 Dec 29;19(24):2126-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.070

    Alcohol addiction is a common affliction with a strong genetic component [1]. Although mammalian studies have provided significant insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying ethanol consumption [2], other organisms such as Drosophila melanogaster are better suited for unbiased, forward genetic approaches to identify novel genes. Behavioral responses to ethanol, such as hyperactivity, sedation, and tolerance, are conserved between flies and mammals [3, 4], as are the underlying molecular pathways [5-9]. However, few studies have investigated ethanol self-administration in flies [10]. Here we characterize ethanol consumption and preference in Drosophila. Flies prefer to consume ethanol-containing food over regular food, and this preference increases over time. Flies are attracted to the smell of ethanol, which partially mediates ethanol preference, but are averse to its taste. Preference for consuming ethanol is not entirely explained by attraction to either its sensory or caloric properties. We demonstrate that flies can exhibit features of alcohol addiction. First, flies self-administer ethanol to pharmacologically relevant concentrations. Second, flies will overcome an aversive stimulus in order to consume ethanol. Third, flies rapidly return to high levels of ethanol consumption after a period of imposed abstinence. Thus, ethanol preference in Drosophila provides a new model for studying aspects of addiction.

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    Tjian Lab
    12/25/09 | Shifting players and paradigms in cell-specific transcription.
    D’Alessio JA, Wright KJ, Tjian R
    Molecular Cell. 2009 Dec 25;36(6):924-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1100640108

    Historically, developmental-stage- and tissue-specific patterns of gene expression were assumed to be determined primarily by DNA regulatory sequences and their associated activators, while the general transcription machinery including core promoter recognition complexes, coactivators, and chromatin modifiers was held to be invariant. New evidence suggests that significant changes in these general transcription factors including TFIID, BAF, and Mediator may facilitate global changes in cell-type-specific transcription.

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    12/23/19 | A multilayer circuit architecture for the generation of distinct locomotor behaviors in .
    Zarin AA, Mark B, Cardona A, Litwin-Kumar A, Doe CQ
    eLlife. 2019 Dec 23;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.51781

    Animals generate diverse motor behaviors, yet how the same motor neurons (MNs) generate two distinct or antagonistic behaviors remains an open question. Here we characterize larval muscle activity patterns and premotor/motor circuits to understand how they generate forward and backward locomotion. We show that all body wall MNs are activated during both behaviors, but a subset of MNs change recruitment timing for each behavior. We used TEM to reconstruct a full segment of all 60 MNs and 236 premotor neurons (PMNs), including differentially-recruited MNs. Analysis of this comprehensive connectome identified PMN-MN 'labeled line' connectivity; PMN-MN combinatorial connectivity; asymmetric neuronal morphology; and PMN-MN circuit motifs that could all contribute to generating distinct behaviors. We generated a recurrent network model that reproduced the observed behaviors, and used functional optogenetics to validate selected model predictions. This PMN-MN connectome will provide a foundation for analyzing the full suite of larval behaviors.

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    12/22/09 | Nuclear receptor unfulfilled regulates axonal guidance and cell identity of Drosophila mushroom body neurons.
    Lin S, Huang Y, Lee T
    PLoS One. 2009 Dec 22;4(12):e8392. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008392

    Nuclear receptors (NRs) comprise a family of ligand-regulated transcription factors that control diverse critical biological processes including various aspects of brain development. Eighteen NR genes exist in the Drosophila genome. To explore their roles in brain development, we knocked down individual NRs through the development of the mushroom bodies (MBs) by targeted RNAi. Besides recapitulating the known MB phenotypes for three NRs, we found that unfulfilled (unf), an ortholog of human photoreceptor specific nuclear receptor (PNR), regulates axonal morphogenesis and neuronal subtype identity. The adult MBs develop through remodeling of gamma neurons plus de-novo elaboration of both alpha’/beta’ and alpha/beta neurons. Notably, unf is largely dispensable for the initial elaboration of gamma neurons, but plays an essential role in their re-extension of axons after pruning during early metamorphosis. The subsequently derived MB neuron types also require unf for extension of axons beyond the terminus of the pruned bundle. Tracing single axons revealed misrouting rather than simple truncation. Further, silencing unf in single-cell clones elicited misguidance of axons in otherwise unperturbed MBs. Such axon guidance defects may occur as MB neurons partially lose their subtype identity, as evidenced by suppression of various MB subtype markers in unf knockdown MBs. In sum, unf governs axonal morphogenesis of multiple MB neuron types, possibly through regulating neuronal subtype identity.

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    Menon Lab
    12/15/09 | Distinct pose of discodermolide in taxol binding pocket drives a complementary mode of microtubule stabilization.
    Khrapunovich-Baine M, Menon V, Verdier-Pinard P, Smith AB, Angeletti RH, Fiser A, Horwitz SB, Xiao H
    Biochemistry. 2009 Dec 15;48(49):11664-77. doi: 10.1021/bi901351q

    The microtubule cytoskeleton has proven to be an effective target for cancer therapeutics. One class of drugs, known as microtubule stabilizing agents (MSAs), binds to microtubule polymers and stabilizes them against depolymerization. The prototype of this group of drugs, Taxol, is an effective chemotherapeutic agent used extensively in the treatment of human ovarian, breast, and lung carcinomas. Although electron crystallography and photoaffinity labeling experiments determined that the binding site for Taxol is in a hydrophobic pocket in beta-tubulin, little was known about the effects of this drug on the conformation of the entire microtubule. A recent study from our laboratory utilizing hydrogen-deuterium exchange (HDX) in concert with various mass spectrometry (MS) techniques has provided new information on the structure of microtubules upon Taxol binding. In the current study we apply this technique to determine the binding mode and the conformational effects on chicken erythrocyte tubulin (CET) of another MSA, discodermolide, whose synthetic analogues may have potential use in the clinic. We confirmed that, like Taxol, discodermolide binds to the taxane binding pocket in beta-tubulin. However, as opposed to Taxol, which has major interactions with the M-loop, discodermolide orients itself away from this loop and toward the N-terminal H1-S2 loop. Additionally, discodermolide stabilizes microtubules mainly via its effects on interdimer contacts, specifically on the alpha-tubulin side, and to a lesser extent on interprotofilament contacts between adjacent beta-tubulin subunits. Also, our results indicate complementary stabilizing effects of Taxol and discodermolide on the microtubules, which may explain the synergy observed between the two drugs in vivo.

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    12/15/09 | TRAPPII is required for cleavage furrow ingression and localization of Rab11 in dividing male meiotic cells of Drosophila.
    Robinett CC, Giansanti MG, Gatti M, Fuller MT
    Journal of Cell Science. 2009 Dec 15;122(Pt 24):4526-34. doi: 10.1242/jcs.054536

    Although membrane addition is crucial for cytokinesis in many animal cell types, the specific mechanisms supporting cleavage furrow ingression are not yet understood. Mutations in the gene brunelleschi (bru), which encodes the Drosophila ortholog of the yeast Trs120p subunit of TRAPPII, cause failure of furrow ingression in male meiotic cells. In non-dividing cells, Brunelleschi protein fused to GFP is dispersed throughout the cytoplasm and enriched at Golgi organelles, similarly to another Drosophila TRAPPII subunit, dBet3. Localization of the membrane-trafficking GTPase Rab11 to the cleavage furrow requires wild-type function of bru, and genetic interactions between bru and Rab11 increase the failure of meiotic cytokinesis and cause synthetic lethality. bru also genetically interacts with four wheel drive (fwd), which encodes a PI4Kbeta, such that double mutants exhibit enhanced failure of male meiotic cytokinesis. These results suggest that Bru cooperates with Rab11 and PI4Kbeta to regulate the efficiency of membrane addition to the cleavage furrow, thus promoting cytokinesis in Drosophila male meiotic cells.

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    12/11/09 | Evolution of the tan locus contributed to pigment loss in Drosophila santomea: a response to Matute et al.
    Rebeiz M, Ramos-Womack M, Jeong S, Andolfatto P, Werner T, True J, Stern DL, Carroll SB
    Cell. 2009 Dec 11;139(6):1189-96. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.11.004

    We have shown previously that the loss of abdominal pigmentation in D. santomea relative to its sister species D. yakuba resulted, in part, from cis-regulatory mutations at the tan locus. Matute et al. claim, based solely upon extrapolation from genetic crosses of D. santomea and D. melanogaster, a much more divergent species, that at least four X chromosome regions but not tan are responsible for pigmentation differences. Here, we provide additional evidence from introgressions of D. yakuba genes into D. santomea that support a causative role for tan in the loss of pigmentation and present analyses that contradict Matute et al.’s claims. We discuss how the choice of parental species and other factors affect the ability to identify loci responsible for species divergence, and we affirm that all of our previously reported results and conclusions stand.

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    12/08/09 | Glycogen synthase kinase-3/Shaggy mediates ethanol-induced excitotoxic cell death of Drosophila olfactory neurons.
    French RL, Heberlein U
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009 Dec 8;106(49):20924-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0910813106

    It has long been known that heavy alcohol consumption leads to neuropathology and neuronal death. While the response of neurons to an ethanol insult is strongly influenced by genetic background, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we show that even a single intoxicating exposure to ethanol causes non-cell-autonomous apoptotic death specifically of Drosophila olfactory neurons, which is accompanied by a loss of a behavioral response to the smell of ethanol and a blackening of the third antennal segment. The Drosophila homolog of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3)beta, Shaggy, is required for ethanol-induced apoptosis. Consistent with this requirement, the GSK-3beta inhibitor lithium protects against the neurotoxic effects of ethanol, indicating the possibility for pharmacological intervention in cases of alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. Ethanol-induced death of olfactory neurons requires both their neural activity and functional NMDA receptors. This system will allow the investigation of the genetic and molecular basis of ethanol-induced apoptosis in general and provide an understanding of the molecular role of GSK-3beta in programmed cell death.

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    12/07/09 | Maximin affinity learning of image segmentation
    Srinivas C. Turaga , Kevin Briggman , Moritz N. Helmstaedter , Winfried Denk , Sebastian Seung
    Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009);22:

    Images can be segmented by first using a classifier to predict an affinity graph that reflects the degree to which image pixels must be grouped together and then partitioning the graph to yield a segmentation. Machine learning has been applied to the affinity classifier to produce affinity graphs that are good in the sense of minimizing edge misclassification rates. However, this error measure is only indirectly related to the quality of segmentations produced by ultimately partitioning the affinity graph. We present the first machine learning algorithm for training a classifier to produce affinity graphs that are good in the sense of producing segmentations that directly minimize the Rand index, a well known segmentation performance measure. The Rand index measures segmentation performance by quantifying the classification of the connectivity of image pixel pairs after segmentation. By using the simple graph partitioning algorithm of finding the connected components of the thresholded affinity graph, we are able to train an affinity classifier to directly minimize the Rand index of segmentations resulting from the graph partitioning. Our learning algorithm corresponds to the learning of maximin affinities between image pixel pairs, which are predictive of the pixel-pair connectivity.

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