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194 Publications

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    09/19/13 | Infernal 1.1: 100-fold faster RNA homology searches.
    Nawrocki EP, Eddy SR
    Bioinformatics. 2013 Sep 19;29(22):2933-5. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btt509

    SUMMARY: Infernal builds probabilistic profiles of the sequence and secondary structure of an RNA family called covariance models (CMs) from structurally annotated multiple sequence alignments given as input. Infernal uses CMs to search for new family members in sequence databases and to create potentially large multiple sequence alignments. Version 1.1 of Infernal introduces a new filter pipeline for RNA homology search based on accelerated profile hidden Markov model (HMM) methods and HMM-banded CM alignment methods. This enables \~{}100-fold acceleration over the previous version and \~{}10 000-fold acceleration over exhaustive non-filtered CM searches. AVAILABILITY: Source code, documentation and the benchmark are downloadable from Infernal is freely licensed under the GNU GPLv3 and should be portable to any POSIX-compliant operating system, including Linux and Mac OS/X. Documentation includes a user’s guide with a tutorial, a discussion of file formats and user options and additional details on methods implemented in the software. CONTACT:

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    09/16/13 | Live imaging of nervous system development and function using light-sheet microscopy.
    Lemon WC, Keller PJ
    Molecular Reproduction and Development. 2015 Jul;82(7-8):605-18. doi: 10.1002/mrd.22258

    In vivo imaging applications typically require carefully balancing conflicting parameters. Often it is necessary to achieve high imaging speed, low photo-bleaching, and photo-toxicity, good three-dimensional resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio, and excellent physical coverage at the same time. Light-sheet microscopy provides good performance in all of these categories, and is thus emerging as a particularly powerful live imaging method for the life sciences. We see an outstanding potential for applying light-sheet microscopy to the study of development and function of the early nervous system in vertebrates and higher invertebrates. Here, we review state-of-the-art approaches to live imaging of early development, and show how the unique capabilities of light-sheet microscopy can further advance our understanding of the development and function of the nervous system. We discuss key considerations in the design of light-sheet microscopy experiments, including sample preparation and fluorescent marker strategies, and provide an outlook for future directions in the field.

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    09/16/13 | Sensorimotor structure of Drosophila larva phototaxis.
    Kane EA, Gershow M, Afonso B, Larderet I, Klein M, Carter AR, de Bivort BL, Sprecher SG, Samuel AD
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Sep 16;110(40):E3868-77. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1215295110

    The avoidance of light by fly larvae is a classic paradigm for sensorimotor behavior. Here, we use behavioral assays and video microscopy to quantify the sensorimotor structure of phototaxis using the Drosophila larva. Larval locomotion is composed of sequences of runs (periods of forward movement) that are interrupted by abrupt turns, during which the larva pauses and sweeps its head back and forth, probing local light information to determine the direction of the successive run. All phototactic responses are mediated by the same set of sensorimotor transformations that require temporal processing of sensory inputs. Through functional imaging and genetic inactivation of specific neurons downstream of the sensory periphery, we have begun to map these sensorimotor circuits into the larval central brain. We find that specific sensorimotor pathways that govern distinct light-evoked responses begin to segregate at the first relay after the photosensory neurons.

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    09/03/13 | Transgenic tools to characterize neuronal properties of discrete populations of zebrafish neurons
    Satou C, Kimura Y, Hirata H, Suster ML, Kawakami K, Higashijima S
    Development. 09/2013;140:3927-3931. doi: 10.1242/dev.099531

    The developing nervous system consists of a variety of cell types. Transgenic animals expressing reporter genes in specific classes of neuronal cells are powerful tools for the study of neuronal network formation. We generated a wide variety of transgenic zebrafish that expressed reporter genes in specific classes of neurons or neuronal progenitors. These include lines in which neurons of specific neurotransmitter phenotypes expressed fluorescent proteins or Gal4, and lines in which specific subsets of the dorsal progenitor domain in the spinal cord expressed fluorescent proteins. Using these, we examined domain organization in the developing dorsal spinal cord, and found that there are six progenitor domains in zebrafish, which is similar to the domain organization in mice. We also systematically characterized neurotransmitter properties of the neurons that are produced from each domain. Given that reporter gene expressions occurs in a wide area of the nervous system in the lines generated, these transgenic fish should serve as powerful tools for the investigation of not only the neurons in the dorsal spinal cord but also neuronal structures and functions in many other regions of the nervous system.

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    Gonen Lab
    09/12/13 | Haemolysin coregulated protein is an exported receptor and chaperone of type VI secretion substrates.
    Silverman JM, Agnello DM, Zheng H, Andrews BT, Li M, Catalano CE, Gonen T, Mougous JD
    Molecular Cell. 2013 Sep 12;51(5):584-93. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2013.07.025

    Secretion systems require high-fidelity mechanisms to discriminate substrates among the vast cytoplasmic pool of proteins. Factors mediating substrate recognition by the type VI secretion system (T6SS) of Gram-negative bacteria, a widespread pathway that translocates effector proteins into target bacterial cells, have not been defined. We report that haemolysin coregulated protein (Hcp), a ring-shaped hexamer secreted by all characterized T6SSs, binds specifically to cognate effector molecules. Electron microscopy analysis of an Hcp-effector complex from Pseudomonas aeruginosa revealed the effector bound to the inner surface of Hcp. Further studies demonstrated that interaction with the Hcp pore is a general requirement for secretion of diverse effectors encompassing several enzymatic classes. Though previous models depict Hcp as a static conduit, our data indicate it is a chaperone and receptor of substrates. These unique functions of a secreted protein highlight fundamental differences between the export mechanism of T6 and other characterized secretory pathways.

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    09/12/13 | Insulin triggers surface-directed trafficking of sequestered GLUT4 storage vesicles marked by Rab10.
    Chen Y, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Small GTPases. 2013 Jul-Sep;4(3):193-7. doi: 10.4161/sgtp.26471

    Understanding how glucose transporter isoform 4 (GLUT4) redistributes to the plasma membrane during insulin stimulation is a major goal of glucose transporter research. GLUT4 molecules normally reside in numerous intracellular compartments, including specialized storage vesicles and early/recycling endosomes. It is unclear how these diverse compartments respond to insulin stimulation to deliver GLUT4 molecules to the plasma membrane. For example, do they fuse with each other first or remain as separate compartments with different trafficking characteristics? Our recent live cell imaging studies are helping to clarify these issues. Using Rab proteins as specific markers to distinguish between storage vesicles and endosomes containing GLUT4, we demonstrate that it is primarily internal GLUT4 storage vesicles (GSVs) marked by Rab10 that approach and fuse at the plasma membrane and GSVs don't interact with endosomes on their way to the plasma membrane. These new findings add strong support to the model that GSV release from intracellular retention plays a major role in supplying GLUT4 molecules onto the PM under insulin stimulation.

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    Wu Lab
    09/12/13 | Molecular architecture of the ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex SWR1.
    Nguyen VQ, Ranjan A, Stengel F, Wei D, Aebersold R, Wu C, Leschziner AE
    Cell. 2013 Sep 12;154(6):1220-31. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.08.018

    The ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex SWR1 exchanges a variant histone H2A.Z/H2B dimer for a canonical H2A/H2B dimer at nucleosomes flanking histone-depleted regions, such as promoters. This localization of H2A.Z is conserved throughout eukaryotes. SWR1 is a 1 megadalton complex containing 14 different polypeptides, including the AAA+ ATPases Rvb1 and Rvb2. Using electron microscopy, we obtained the three-dimensional structure of SWR1 and mapped its major functional components. Our data show that SWR1 contains a single heterohexameric Rvb1/Rvb2 ring that, together with the catalytic subunit Swr1, brackets two independently assembled multisubunit modules. We also show that SWR1 undergoes a large conformational change upon engaging a limited region of the nucleosome core particle. Our work suggests an important structural role for the Rvbs and a distinct substrate-handling mode by SWR1, thereby providing a structural framework for understanding the complex dimer-exchange reaction.

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    Wu Lab
    09/12/13 | Nucleosome-free region dominates histone acetylation in targeting SWR1 to promoters for H2A.Z replacement.
    Ranjan A, Mizuguchi G, Fitzgerald PC, Wei D, Wang F, Huang Y, Luk E, Woodcock CL, Wu C
    Cell. 2013 Sep 12;154(6):1232-45. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.08.005

    The histone variant H2A.Z is a genome-wide signature of nucleosomes proximal to eukaryotic regulatory DNA. Whereas the multisubunit chromatin remodeler SWR1 is known to catalyze ATP-dependent deposition of H2A.Z, the mechanism of SWR1 recruitment to S. cerevisiae promoters has been unclear. A sensitive assay for competitive binding of dinucleosome substrates revealed that SWR1 preferentially binds long nucleosome-free DNA and the adjoining nucleosome core particle, allowing discrimination of gene promoters over gene bodies. Analysis of mutants indicates that the conserved Swc2/YL1 subunit and the adenosine triphosphatase domain of Swr1 are mainly responsible for binding to substrate. SWR1 binding is enhanced on nucleosomes acetylated by the NuA4 histone acetyltransferase, but recognition of nucleosome-free and nucleosomal DNA is dominant over interaction with acetylated histones. Such hierarchical cooperation between DNA and histone signals expands the dynamic range of genetic switches, unifying classical gene regulation by DNA-binding factors with ATP-dependent nucleosome remodeling and posttranslational histone modifications.

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    09/11/13 | Optogenetics through windows on the brain in the nonhuman primate.
    Ruiz O, Lustig BR, Nassi JJ, Cetin A, Reynolds JH, Albright TD, Callaway EM, Stoner GR, Roe AW
    Journal of neurophysiology. 2013 Sep;110(6):1455-67. doi: 10.1152/jn.00153.2013

    Optogenetics combines optics and genetics to control neuronal activity with cell-type specificity and millisecond temporal precision. Its use in model organisms such as rodents, Drosophila, and Caenorhabditis elegans is now well-established. However, application of this technology in nonhuman primates (NHPs) has been slow to develop. One key challenge has been the delivery of viruses and light to the brain through the thick dura mater of NHPs, which can only be penetrated with large-diameter devices that damage the brain. The opacity of the NHP dura prevents visualization of the underlying cortex, limiting the spatial precision of virus injections, electrophysiological recordings, and photostimulation. Here, we describe a new optogenetics approach in which the native dura is replaced with an optically transparent artificial dura. This artificial dura can be penetrated with fine glass micropipettes, enabling precisely targeted injections of virus into brain tissue with minimal damage to cortex. The expression of optogenetic agents can be monitored visually over time. Most critically, this optical window permits targeted, noninvasive photostimulation and concomitant measurements of neuronal activity via intrinsic signal imaging and electrophysiological recordings. We present results from both anesthetized-paralyzed (optical imaging) and awake-behaving NHPs (electrophysiology). The improvements over current methods made possible by the artificial dura should enable the widespread use of optogenetic tools in NHP research, a key step toward the development of therapies for neuropsychiatric and neurological diseases in humans.

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    09/03/13 | Two Pfam protein families characterized by a crystal structure of protein lpg2210 from Legionella pneumophila.
    Coggill P, Eberhardt RY, Finn RD, Chang Y, Jaroszewski L, Godzik A, Das D, Xu Q, Axelrod HL, Aravind L, Murzin AG, Bateman A
    BMC Bioinformatics. 2013 Sep 3;14:265. doi: 10.1186/1471-2105-14-265

    BACKGROUND: Every genome contains a large number of uncharacterized proteins that may encode entirely novel biological systems. Many of these uncharacterized proteins fall into related sequence families. By applying sequence and structural analysis we hope to provide insight into novel biology. RESULTS: We analyze a previously uncharacterized Pfam protein family called DUF4424 [Pfam:PF14415]. The recently solved three-dimensional structure of the protein lpg2210 from Legionella pneumophila provides the first structural information pertaining to this family. This protein additionally includes the first representative structure of another Pfam family called the YARHG domain [Pfam:PF13308]. The Pfam family DUF4424 adopts a 19-stranded beta-sandwich fold that shows similarity to the N-terminal domain of leukotriene A-4 hydrolase. The YARHG domain forms an all-helical domain at the C-terminus. Structure analysis allows us to recognize distant similarities between the DUF4424 domain and individual domains of M1 aminopeptidases and tricorn proteases, which form massive proteasome-like capsids in both archaea and bacteria. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our analyses we hypothesize that the DUF4424 domain may have a role in forming large, multi-component enzyme complexes. We suggest that the YARGH domain may play a role in binding a moiety in proximity with peptidoglycan, such as a hydrophobic outer membrane lipid or lipopolysaccharide.

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