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188 Publications

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    05/01/11 | Rapid three-dimensional isotropic imaging of living cells using Bessel beam plane illumination. (With commentary)
    Planchon TA, Gao L, Milkie DE, Davidson MW, Galbraith JA, Galbraith CG, Betzig E
    Nature Methods. 2011 May;8(5):417-23. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1586

    A key challenge when imaging living cells is how to noninvasively extract the most spatiotemporal information possible. Unlike popular wide-field and confocal methods, plane-illumination microscopy limits excitation to the information-rich vicinity of the focal plane, providing effective optical sectioning and high speed while minimizing out-of-focus background and premature photobleaching. Here we used scanned Bessel beams in conjunction with structured illumination and/or two-photon excitation to create thinner light sheets (<0.5 μm) better suited to three-dimensional (3D) subcellular imaging. As demonstrated by imaging the dynamics of mitochondria, filopodia, membrane ruffles, intracellular vesicles and mitotic chromosomes in live cells, the microscope currently offers 3D isotropic resolution down to \~{}0.3 μm, speeds up to nearly 200 image planes per second and the ability to noninvasively acquire hundreds of 3D data volumes from single living cells encompassing tens of thousands of image frames.

    Commentary: Plane illumination microscopy has proven to be a powerful tool for studying multicellular organisms and their development at single cell resolution. However, the light sheets employed are usually too thick to provide much benefit for imaging organelles within single cultured cells. Here we introduce the use of scanned Bessel beams to create much thinner light sheets better suited to long-term dynamic live cell imaging. Such light sheets not only minimize photobleaching and phototoxicity at the sub-cellular level, but also provide axial resolution enhancement, yielding isotropic three dimensional spatial resolution. Numerous movies are provided to demonstrate the wealth of 4D information (x,y,x,t) that can be obtained from single living cells by the method. Besides providing an attractive alternative to spinning disk, AOD-driven, or line scan confocal microscopes for high speed live cell imaging, the Bessel microscope might serve as a valuable platform for superresolution microscopy (PALM, structured Illumination, or RESOLFT), since confinement of the excitation to the focal plane makes far better use of the limited fluorescence photon budget than does the traditional epi-illumination configuration.

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    Gonen Lab
    05/01/11 | The binding of cholera toxin to the periplasmic vestibule of the type II secretion channel.
    Reichow SL, Korotkov KV, Gonen M, Sun J, Delarosa JR, Hol WG, Gonen T
    Channels. 2011 May-Jun;5(3):215-8

    The type II secretion system (T2SS) is a large macromolecular complex spanning the inner and outer membranes of many gram-negative bacteria. The T2SS is responsible for the secretion of virulence factors such as cholera toxin (CT) and heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) from Vibrio cholerae and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, respectively. CT and LT are closely related AB5 heterohexamers, composed of one A subunit and a B-pentamer. Both CT and LT are translocated, as folded protein complexes, from the periplasm across the outer membrane through the type II secretion channel, the secretin GspD. We recently published the 19 Å structure of the V. cholerae secretin (VcGspD) in its closed state and showed by SPR measurements that the periplasmic domain of GspD interacts with the B-pentamer complex. Here we extend these studies by characterizing the binding of the cholera toxin B-pentamer to VcGspD using electron microscopy of negatively stained preparations. Our studies indicate that the pentamer is captured within the large periplasmic vestibule of VcGspD. These new results agree well with our previously published studies and are in accord with a piston-driven type II secretion mechanism.

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    Zlatic Lab
    04/28/11 | A combinatorial semaphorin code instructs the initial steps of sensory circuit assembly in the Drosophila CNS.
    Wu Z, Sweeney LB, Ayoob JC, Chak K, Andreone BJ, Ohyama T, Kerr R, Luo L, Zlatic M, Kolodkin AL
    Neuron. 2011 Apr 28;70(2):281-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.02.050

    Longitudinal axon fascicles within the Drosophila embryonic CNS provide connections between body segments and are required for coordinated neural signaling along the anterior-posterior axis. We show here that establishment of select CNS longitudinal tracts and formation of precise mechanosensory afferent innervation to the same CNS region are coordinately regulated by the secreted semaphorins Sema-2a and Sema-2b. Both Sema-2a and Sema-2b utilize the same neuronal receptor, plexin B (PlexB), but serve distinct guidance functions. Localized Sema-2b attraction promotes the initial assembly of a subset of CNS longitudinal projections and subsequent targeting of chordotonal sensory afferent axons to these same longitudinal connectives, whereas broader Sema-2a repulsion serves to prevent aberrant innervation. In the absence of Sema-2b or PlexB, chordotonal afferent connectivity within the CNS is severely disrupted, resulting in specific larval behavioral deficits. These results reveal that distinct semaphorin-mediated guidance functions converge at PlexB and are critical for functional neural circuit assembly.

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    04/26/11 | Genome-wide association and genetic functional studies identify autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene (AUTS2) in the regulation of alcohol consumption.
    Schumann G, Coin LJ, Lourdusamy A, Charoen P, Berger KH, Stacey D, Desrivières S, Aliev FA, Khan AA, Amin N, Aulchenko YS, Bakalkin G, Bakker SJ, Balkau B, Beulens JW, Bilbao A, de Boer RA, Beury D, Bots ML, Breetvelt EJ, Cauchi S, Cavalcanti-Proença C, Chambers JC, Clarke T, Dahmen N, de Geus EJ, Dick D, Ducci F, Easton A, Edenberg HJ, Esko T, Esk T, Fernández-Medarde A, Foroud T, Freimer NB, Girault J, Grobbee DE, Guarrera S, Gudbjartsson DF, Hartikainen A, Heath AC, Hesselbrock V, Hofman A, Hottenga J, Isohanni MK, Kaprio J, Khaw K, Kuehnel B, Laitinen J, Lobbens S, Luan J, Mangino M, Maroteaux M, Matullo G, McCarthy MI, Mueller C, Navis G, Numans ME, Núñez A, Nyholt DR, Onland-Moret CN, Oostra BA, O'Reilly PF, Palkovits M, Penninx BW, Polidoro S, Pouta A, Prokopenko I, Ricceri F, Santos E, Smit JH, Soranzo N, Song K, Sovio U, Stumvoll M, Surakk I, Thorgeirsson TE, Thorsteinsdottir U, Troakes C, Tyrfingsson T, Tönjes A, Uiterwaal CS, Uitterlinden AG, van der Harst P, van der Schouw YT, Staehlin O, Vogelzangs N, Vollenweider P, Waeber G, Wareham NJ, Waterworth DM, Whitfield JB, Wichmann EH, Willemsen G, Witteman JC, Yuan X, Zhai G, Zhao JH, Zhang W, Martin NG, Metspalu A, Doering A, Scott J, Spector TD, Loos RJ, Boomsma DI, Mooser V, Peltonen L, Stefansson K, van Duijn CM, Vineis P, Sommer WH, Kooner JS, Spanagel R, Heberlein UA, Jarvelin M, Elliott P
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Apr 26;108(17):7119-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1017288108

    Alcohol consumption is a moderately heritable trait, but the genetic basis in humans is largely unknown, despite its clinical and societal importance. We report a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of ∼2.5 million directly genotyped or imputed SNPs with alcohol consumption (gram per day per kilogram body weight) among 12 population-based samples of European ancestry, comprising 26,316 individuals, with replication genotyping in an additional 21,185 individuals. SNP rs6943555 in autism susceptibility candidate 2 gene (AUTS2) was associated with alcohol consumption at genome-wide significance (P = 4 × 10(-8) to P = 4 × 10(-9)). We found a genotype-specific expression of AUTS2 in 96 human prefrontal cortex samples (P = 0.026) and significant (P < 0.017) differences in expression of AUTS2 in whole-brain extracts of mice selected for differences in voluntary alcohol consumption. Down-regulation of an AUTS2 homolog caused reduced alcohol sensitivity in Drosophila (P < 0.001). Our finding of a regulator of alcohol consumption adds knowledge to our understanding of genetic mechanisms influencing alcohol drinking behavior.

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    04/22/11 | Real-time observation of transcription initiation and elongation on an endogenous yeast gene.
    Larson DR, Zenklusen D, Wu B, Chao JA, Singer RH
    Science. 2011 Apr 22;332(6028):475-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1202142

    Cellular messenger RNA levels are achieved by the combinatorial complexity of factors controlling transcription, yet the small number of molecules involved in these pathways fluctuates stochastically. It has not yet been experimentally possible to observe the activity of single polymerases on an endogenous gene to elucidate how these events occur in vivo. Here, we describe a method of fluctuation analysis of fluorescently labeled RNA to measure dynamics of nascent RNA–including initiation, elongation, and termination–at an active yeast locus. We find no transcriptional memory between initiation events, and elongation speed can vary by threefold throughout the cell cycle. By measuring the abundance and intranuclear mobility of an upstream transcription factor, we observe that the gene firing rate is directly determined by trans-activating factor search times.

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    Gonen Lab
    04/19/11 | N-terminal domain of alphaB-crystallin provides a conformational switch for multimerization and structural heterogeneity.
    Jehle S, Vollmar BS, Bardiaux B, Dove KK, Rajagopal P, Gonen T, Oschkinat H, Klevit RE
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Apr 19;108(16):6409-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1014656108

    The small heat shock protein (sHSP) αB-crystallin (αB) plays a key role in the cellular protection system against stress. For decades, high-resolution structural studies on heterogeneous sHSPs have been confounded by the polydisperse nature of αB oligomers. We present an atomic-level model of full-length αB as a symmetric 24-subunit multimer based on solid-state NMR, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and EM data. The model builds on our recently reported structure of the homodimeric α-crystallin domain (ACD) and C-terminal IXI motif in the context of the multimer. A hierarchy of interactions contributes to build multimers of varying sizes: Interactions between two ACDs define a dimer, three dimers connected by their C-terminal regions define a hexameric unit, and variable interactions involving the N-terminal region define higher-order multimers. Within a multimer, N-terminal regions exist in multiple environments, contributing to the heterogeneity observed by NMR. Analysis of SAXS data allows determination of a heterogeneity parameter for this type of system. A mechanism of multimerization into higher-order asymmetric oligomers via the addition of up to six dimeric units to a 24-mer is proposed. The proposed asymmetric multimers explain the homogeneous appearance of αB in negative-stain EM images and the known dynamic exchange of αB subunits. The model of αB provides a structural basis for understanding known disease-associated missense mutations and makes predictions concerning substrate binding and the reported fibrilogenesis of αB.

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    04/14/11 | Intracellular determinants of hippocampal CA1 place and silent cell activity in a novel environment.
    Epsztein J, Brecht M, Lee AK
    Neuron. 2011 Apr 14;70(1):109-20. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.03.006

    For each environment a rodent has explored, its hippocampus contains a map consisting of a unique subset of neurons, called place cells, that have spatially tuned spiking there, with the remaining neurons being essentially silent. Using whole-cell recording in freely moving rats exploring a novel maze, we observed differences in intrinsic cellular properties and input-based subthreshold membrane potential levels underlying this division into place and silent cells. Compared to silent cells, place cells had lower spike thresholds and peaked versus flat subthreshold membrane potentials as a function of animal location. Both differences were evident from the beginning of exploration. Additionally, future place cells exhibited higher burst propensity before exploration. Thus, internal settings appear to predetermine which cells will represent the next novel environment encountered. Furthermore, place cells fired spatially tuned bursts with large, putatively calcium-mediated depolarizations that could trigger plasticity and stabilize the new map for long-term storage. Our results provide new insight into hippocampal memory formation.

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    04/13/11 | A role for actin arcs in the leading-edge advance of migrating cells.
    Burnette DT, Manley S, Sengupta P, Sougrat R, Davidson MW, Kachar B, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Nature cell biology. 2011 Apr;13(4):371-81. doi: 10.1038/ncb2205

    Epithelial cell migration requires coordination of two actin modules at the leading edge: one in the lamellipodium and one in the lamella. How the two modules connect mechanistically to regulate directed edge motion is not understood. Using live-cell imaging and photoactivation approaches, we demonstrate that the actin network of the lamellipodium evolves spatio-temporally into the lamella. This occurs during the retraction phase of edge motion, when myosin II redistributes to the lamellipodial actin and condenses it into an actin arc parallel to the edge. The new actin arc moves rearward, slowing down at focal adhesions in the lamella. We propose that net edge extension occurs by nascent focal adhesions advancing the site at which new actin arcs slow down and form the base of the next protrusion event. The actin arc thereby serves as a structural element underlying the temporal and spatial connection between the lamellipodium and the lamella during directed cell motion.

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    Menon Lab
    04/01/11 | Hallmarks of molecular action of microtubule stabilizing agents: effects of epothilone B, ixabepilone, peloruside A, and laulimalide on microtubule conformation.
    Khrapunovich-Baine M, Menon V, Yang CH, Northcote PT, Miller JH, Angeletti RH, Fiser A, Horwitz SB, Xiao H
    The Journal of biological chemistry. 2011 Apr 1;286(13):11765-78. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.162214

    Microtubule stabilizing agents (MSAs) comprise a class of drugs that bind to microtubule (MT) polymers and stabilize them against disassembly. Several of these agents are currently in clinical use as anticancer drugs, whereas others are in various stages of development. Nonetheless, there is insufficient knowledge about the molecular modes of their action. Recent studies from our laboratory utilizing hydrogen-deuterium exchange in combination with mass spectrometry (MS) provide new information on the conformational effects of Taxol and discodermolide on microtubules isolated from chicken erythrocytes (CET). We report here a comprehensive analysis of the effects of epothilone B, ixabepilone (IXEMPRA(TM)), laulimalide, and peloruside A on CET conformation. The results of our comparative hydrogen-deuterium exchange MS studies indicate that all MSAs have significant conformational effects on the C-terminal H12 helix of α-tubulin, which is a likely molecular mechanism for the previously observed modulations of MT interactions with microtubule-associated and motor proteins. More importantly, the major mode of MT stabilization by MSAs is the tightening of the longitudinal interactions between two adjacent αβ-tubulin heterodimers at the interdimer interface. In contrast to previous observations reported with bovine brain tubulin, the lateral interactions between the adjacent protofilaments in CET are particularly strongly stabilized by peloruside A and laulimalide, drugs that bind outside the taxane site. This not only highlights the significance of tubulin isotype composition in modulating drug effects on MT conformation and stability but also provides a potential explanation for the synergy observed when combinations of taxane and alternative site binding drugs are used.

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    04/01/11 | Multiplexed shotgun genotyping for rapid and efficient genetic mapping.
    Andolfatto P, Davison D, Erezyilmaz D, Hu TT, Mast J, Sunayama-Morita T, Stern DL
    Genome Research. 2011 Apr;21(4):610-7. doi: 10.1101/gr.115402.110

    We present a new approach to genotyping based on multiplexed shotgun sequencing that can identify recombination breakpoints in a large number of individuals simultaneously at a resolution sufficient for most mapping purposes, such as quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping and mapping of induced mutations. We first describe a simple library construction protocol that uses just 10 ng of genomic DNA per individual and makes the approach accessible to any laboratory with standard molecular biology equipment. Sequencing this library results in a large number of sequence reads widely distributed across the genomes of multiplexed bar-coded individuals. We develop a Hidden Markov Model to estimate ancestry at all genomic locations in all individuals using these data. We demonstrate the utility of the approach by mapping a dominant marker allele in D. simulans to within 105 kb of its true position using 96 F1-backcross individuals genotyped in a single lane on an Illumina Genome Analyzer. We further demonstrate the utility of our method by genetically mapping more than 400 previously unassembled D. simulans contigs to linkage groups and by evaluating the quality of targeted introgression lines. At this level of multiplexing and divergence between strains, our method allows estimation of recombination breakpoints to a median of 38-kb intervals. Our analysis suggests that higher levels of multiplexing and/or use of strains with lower levels of divergence are practicable.

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