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194 Publications

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    08/07/13 | A visual motion detection circuit suggested by Drosophila connectomics.
    Takemura S, Bharioke A, Lu Z, Nern A, Vitaladevuni S, Rivlin PK, Katz WT, Olbris DJ, Plaza SM, Winston P, Zhao T, Horne JA, Fetter RD, Takemura S, Blazek K, Chang L, Ogundeyi O, Saunders MA, Shapiro V, Sigmund C, Rubin GM, Scheffer LK, Meinertzhagen IA, Chklovskii DB
    Nature. 2013 Aug 7;500(7461):175–81. doi: doi:10.1038/nature12450

    Animal behaviour arises from computations in neuronal circuits, but our understanding of these computations has been frustrated by the lack of detailed synaptic connection maps, or connectomes. For example, despite intensive investigations over half a century, the neuronal implementation of local motion detection in the insect visual system remains elusive. Here we develop a semi-automated pipeline using electron microscopy to reconstruct a connectome, containing 379 neurons and 8,637 chemical synaptic contacts, within the Drosophila optic medulla. By matching reconstructed neurons to examples from light microscopy, we assigned neurons to cell types and assembled a connectome of the repeating module of the medulla. Within this module, we identified cell types constituting a motion detection circuit, and showed that the connections onto individual motion-sensitive neurons in this circuit were consistent with their direction selectivity. Our results identify cellular targets for future functional investigations, and demonstrate that connectomes can provide key insights into neuronal computations.

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    Magee Lab
    08/07/13 | Potassium channels control the interaction between active dendritic integration compartments in layer 5 cortical pyramidal neurons.
    Harnett MT, Xu N, Magee JC, Williams SR
    Neuron. 2013 Aug 7;79:516-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.06.005

    Active dendritic synaptic integration enhances the computational power of neurons. Such nonlinear processing generates an object-localization signal in the apical dendritic tuft of layer 5B cortical pyramidal neurons during sensory-motor behavior. Here, we employ electrophysiological and optical approaches in brain slices and behaving animals to investigate how excitatory synaptic input to this distal dendritic compartment influences neuronal output. We find that active dendritic integration throughout the apical dendritic tuft is highly compartmentalized by voltage-gated potassium (KV) channels. A high density of both transient and sustained KV channels was observed in all apical dendritic compartments. These channels potently regulated the interaction between apical dendritic tuft, trunk, and axosomatic integration zones to control neuronal output in vitro as well as the engagement of dendritic nonlinear processing in vivo during sensory-motor behavior. Thus, KV channels dynamically tune the interaction between active dendritic integration compartments in layer 5B pyramidal neurons to shape behaviorally relevant neuronal computations.

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    08/02/13 | Electron microscopy reconstruction of brain structure using sparse representations over learned dictionaries.
    Hu T, Nunez-Iglesias J, Vitaladevuni S, Scheffer L, Xu S, Bolorizadeh M, Hess H, Fetter R, Chklovskii D
    IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging. 2013 Aug 2;32(12):2179-88. doi: 10.1109/TMI.2013.2276018

    A central problem in neuroscience is reconstructing neuronal circuits on the synapse level. Due to a wide range of scales in brain architecture such reconstruction requires imaging that is both high-resolution and high-throughput. Existing electron microscopy (EM) techniques possess required resolution in the lateral plane and either high-throughput or high depth resolution but not both. Here, we exploit recent advances in unsupervised learning and signal processing to obtain high depth-resolution EM images computationally without sacrificing throughput. First, we show that the brain tissue can be represented as a sparse linear combination of localized basis functions that are learned using high-resolution datasets. We then develop compressive sensing-inspired techniques that can reconstruct the brain tissue from very few (typically 5) tomographic views of each section. This enables tracing of neuronal processes and, hence, high throughput reconstruction of neural circuits on the level of individual synapses.

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    08/01/13 | Addiction.
    Everitt BJ, Heberlein U
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2013 Aug;23(4):463-6. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2013.07.003

    Drug addiction and obesity share the core feature that those afflicted by the disorders express a desire to limit drug or food consumption yet persist despite negative consequences. Emerging evidence suggests that the compulsivity that defines these disorders may arise, to some degree at least, from common underlying neurobiological mechanisms. In particular, both disorders are associated with diminished striatal dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) availability, likely reflecting their decreased maturation and surface expression. In striatum, D2Rs are expressed by approximately half of the principal medium spiny projection neurons (MSNs), the striatopallidal neurons of the so-called 'indirect' pathway. D2Rs are also expressed presynaptically on dopamine terminals and on cholinergic interneurons. This heterogeneity of D2R expression has hindered attempts, largely using traditional pharmacological approaches, to understand their contribution to compulsive drug or food intake. The emergence of genetic technologies to target discrete populations of neurons, coupled to optogenetic and chemicogenetic tools to manipulate their activity, have provided a means to dissect striatopallidal and cholinergic contributions to compulsivity. Here, we review recent evidence supporting an important role for striatal D2R signaling in compulsive drug use and food intake. We pay particular attention to striatopallidal projection neurons and their role in compulsive responding for food and drugs. Finally, we identify opportunities for future obesity research using known mechanisms of addiction as a heuristic, and leveraging new tools to manipulate activity of specific populations of striatal neurons to understand their contributions to addiction and obesity.

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    Pavlopoulos Lab
    08/01/13 | Cell and tissue dynamics during Tribolium embryogenesis revealed by versatile fluorescence labeling approaches.
    Benton MA, Akam M, Pavlopoulos A
    Development. 2013 Aug;140(15):3210-20. doi: 10.1242/dev.096271

    Studies on new arthropod models such as the beetle Tribolium castaneum are shifting our knowledge of embryonic patterning and morphogenesis beyond the Drosophila paradigm. In contrast to Drosophila, Tribolium embryos exhibit the short-germ type of development and become enveloped by extensive extra-embryonic membranes, the amnion and serosa. The genetic basis of these processes has been the focus of active research. Here, we complement genetic approaches with live fluorescence imaging of Tribolium embryos to make the link between gene function and morphogenetic cell behaviors during blastoderm formation and differentiation, germband condensation and elongation, and extra-embryonic development. We first show that transient labeling methods result in strong, homogeneous and persistent expression of fluorescent markers in Tribolium embryos, labeling the chromatin, membrane, cytoskeleton or combinations thereof. We then use co-injection of fluorescent markers with dsRNA for live imaging of embryos with disrupted caudal gene function caused by RNA interference. Using these approaches, we describe and compare cell and tissue dynamics in Tribolium embryos with wild-type and altered fate maps. We find that Tribolium germband condensation is effected by cell contraction and intercalation, with the latter being dependent on the anterior-posterior patterning system. We propose that germband condensation drives initiation of amnion folding, whereas expansion of the amniotic fold and closure of the amniotic cavity are likely driven by contraction of an actomyosin cable at the boundary between the amnion and serosa. Our methodology provides a comprehensive framework for testing quantitative models of patterning, growth and morphogenetic mechanisms in Tribolium and other arthropod species.

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    08/01/13 | Electron cryotomography of ESCRT assemblies and dividing Sulfolobus cells suggests that spiraling filaments are involved in membrane scission.
    Dobro MJ, Samson RY, Yu Z, McCullough J, Ding HJ, Chong PL, Bell SD, Jensen GJ
    Molecular Biology of the Cell. 2013 Aug;24(15):2319-27. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E12-11-0785

    The endosomal-sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) is evolutionarily conserved from Archaea to eukaryotes. The complex drives membrane scission events in a range of processes, including cytokinesis in Metazoa and some Archaea. CdvA is the protein in Archaea that recruits ESCRT-III to the membrane. Using electron cryotomography (ECT), we find that CdvA polymerizes into helical filaments wrapped around liposomes. ESCRT-III proteins are responsible for the cinching of membranes and have been shown to assemble into helical tubes in vitro, but here we show that they also can form nested tubes and nested cones, which reveal surprisingly numerous and versatile contacts. To observe the ESCRT-CdvA complex in a physiological context, we used ECT to image the archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius and observed a distinct protein belt at the leading edge of constriction furrows in dividing cells. The known dimensions of ESCRT-III proteins constrain their possible orientations within each of these structures and point to the involvement of spiraling filaments in membrane scission.

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    Singer Lab
    08/01/13 | Eukaryotic transcriptional dynamics: from single molecules to cell populations.
    Coulon A, Chow CC, Singer RH, Larson DR
    Nature Reviews Genetics. 2013 Aug;14(8):572-84. doi: 10.1038/nrg3484

    Transcriptional regulation is achieved through combinatorial interactions between regulatory elements in the human genome and a vast range of factors that modulate the recruitment and activity of RNA polymerase. Experimental approaches for studying transcription in vivo now extend from single-molecule techniques to genome-wide measurements. Parallel to these developments is the need for testable quantitative and predictive models for understanding gene regulation. These conceptual models must also provide insight into the dynamics of transcription and the variability that is observed at the single-cell level. In this Review, we discuss recent results on transcriptional regulation and also the models those results engender. We show how a non-equilibrium description informs our view of transcription by explicitly considering time- and energy-dependence at the molecular level.

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    Riddiford LabTruman Lab
    07/30/13 | A molt timer is involved in the metamorphic molt in Manduca sexta larvae.
    Suzuki Y, Koyama T, Hiruma K, Riddiford LM, Truman JW
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Jul 30;110(31):12518-25. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1311405110

    Manduca sexta larvae are a model for growth control in insects, particularly for the demonstration of critical weight, a threshold weight that the larva must surpass before it can enter metamorphosis on a normal schedule, and the inhibitory action of juvenile hormone on this checkpoint. We examined the effects of nutrition on allatectomized (CAX) larvae that lack juvenile hormone to impose the critical weight checkpoint. Normal larvae respond to prolonged starvation at the start of the last larval stage, by extending their subsequent feeding period to ensure that they begin metamorphosis above critical weight. CAX larvae, by contrast, show no homeostatic adjustment to starvation but start metamorphosis 4 d after feeding onset, regardless of larval size or the state of development of their imaginal discs. By feeding starved CAX larvae for various durations, we found that feeding for only 12-24 h was sufficient to result in metamorphosis on day 4, regardless of further feeding or body size. Manipulation of diet composition showed that protein was the critical macronutrient to initiate this timing. This constant period between the start of feeding and the onset of metamorphosis suggests that larvae possess a molt timer that establishes a minimal time to metamorphosis. Ligation experiments indicate that a portion of the timing may occur in the prothoracic glands. This positive system that promotes molting and the negative control via the critical weight checkpoint provide antagonistic pathways that evolution can modify to adapt growth to the ecological needs of different insects.

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    07/30/13 | ViSP: representing single-particle localizations in three dimensions.
    Beheiry ME, Dahan M
    Nature Methods. 2013 Jul 30;10(8):689-90. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2566
    Gonen Lab
    07/28/13 | Allosteric mechanism of water-channel gating by Ca(2+)-calmodulin.
    Reichow SL, Clemens DM, Freites JA, Németh-Cahalan KL, Heyden M, Tobias DJ, Hall JE, Gonen T
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2013 Jul 28;20(9):1085-92. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2630

    Calmodulin (CaM) is a universal regulatory protein that communicates the presence of calcium to its molecular targets and correspondingly modulates their function. This key signaling protein is important for controlling the activity of hundreds of membrane channels and transporters. However, understanding of the structural mechanisms driving CaM regulation of full-length membrane proteins has remained elusive. In this study, we determined the pseudoatomic structure of full-length mammalian aquaporin-0 (AQP0, Bos taurus) in complex with CaM, using EM to elucidate how this signaling protein modulates water-channel function. Molecular dynamics and functional mutation studies reveal how CaM binding inhibits AQP0 water permeability by allosterically closing the cytoplasmic gate of AQP0. Our mechanistic model provides new insight, only possible in the context of the fully assembled channel, into how CaM regulates multimeric channels by facilitating cooperativity between adjacent subunits.

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