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236 Publications

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    Simpson LabRubin Lab
    02/19/14 | A systematic nomenclature for the insect brain.
    Ito K, Shinomiya K, Ito M, Armstrong JD, Boyan G, Hartenstein V, Harzsch S, Heisenberg M, Homberg U, Jenett A, Keshishian H, Restifo LL, Rössler W, Simpson JH, Strausfeld NJ, Strauss R, Vosshall LB
    Neuron. 2014 Feb 19;81:755-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.12.017

    Despite the importance of the insect nervous system for functional and developmental neuroscience, descriptions of insect brains have suffered from a lack of uniform nomenclature. Ambiguous definitions of brain regions and fiber bundles have contributed to the variation of names used to describe the same structure. The lack of clearly determined neuropil boundaries has made it difficult to document precise locations of neuronal projections for connectomics study. To address such issues, a consortium of neurobiologists studying arthropod brains, the Insect Brain Name Working Group, has established the present hierarchical nomenclature system, using the brain of Drosophila melanogaster as the reference framework, while taking the brains of other taxa into careful consideration for maximum consistency and expandability. The following summarizes the consortium’s nomenclature system and highlights examples of existing ambiguities and remedies for them. This nomenclature is intended to serve as a standard of reference for the study of the brain of Drosophila and other insects.

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    02/17/14 | Neural circuit components of the drosophila OFF motion vision pathway.
    Meier M, Serbe E, Maisak MS, Haag J, Dickson BJ, Borst A
    Current Biology. 2014 Feb 17;24(4):385-92. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.006

    BACKGROUND: Detecting the direction of visual motion is an essential task of the early visual system. The Reichardt detector has been proven to be a faithful description of the underlying computation in insects. A series of recent studies addressed the neural implementation of the Reichardt detector in Drosophila revealing the overall layout in parallel ON and OFF channels, its input neurons from the lamina (L1→ON, and L2→OFF), and the respective output neurons to the lobula plate (ON→T4, and OFF→T5). While anatomical studies showed that T4 cells receive input from L1 via Mi1 and Tm3 cells, the neurons connecting L2 to T5 cells have not been identified so far. It is, however, known that L2 contacts, among others, two neurons, called Tm2 and L4, which show a pronounced directionality in their wiring. RESULTS: We characterized the visual response properties of both Tm2 and L4 neurons via Ca(2+) imaging. We found that Tm2 and L4 cells respond with an increase in activity to moving OFF edges in a direction-unselective manner. To investigate their participation in motion vision, we blocked their output while recording from downstream tangential cells in the lobula plate. Silencing of Tm2 and L4 completely abolishes the response to moving OFF edges. CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that both cell types are essential components of the Drosophila OFF motion vision pathway, prior to the computation of directionality in the dendrites of T5 cells.

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    02/14/14 | RIVETS: A mechanical system for in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology and imaging.
    Osborne JE, Dudman JT
    PLoS One. 2014 Feb 14;9(2):e89007. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089007

    A number of recent studies have provided compelling demonstrations that both mice and rats can be trained to perform a variety of behavioral tasks while restrained by mechanical elements mounted to the skull. The independent development of this technique by a number of laboratories has led to diverse solutions. We found that these solutions often used expensive materials and impeded future development and modification in the absence of engineering support. In order to address these issues, here we report on the development of a flexible single hardware design for electrophysiology and imaging both in brain tissue in vitro. Our hardware facilitates the rapid conversion of a single preparation between physiology and imaging system and the conversion of a given system between preparations. In addition, our use of rapid prototyping machines ("3D printers") allows for the deployment of new designs within a day. Here, we present specifications for design and manufacturing as well as some data from our lab demonstrating the suitability of the design for physiology in behaving animals and imaging in vitro and in vivo.

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    Pavlopoulos Lab
    02/14/14 | Tribolium embryo morphogenesis: may the force be with you.
    Benton MA, Pavlopoulos A
    Bioarchitecture. 2014 Jan-Feb;4(1):16-21. doi: 10.4161/bioa.27815

    Development of multicellular organisms depends on patterning and growth mechanisms encoded in the genome, but also on the physical properties and mechanical interactions of the constituent cells that interpret these genetic cues. This fundamental biological problem requires integrated studies at multiple levels of biological organization: from genes, to cell behaviors, to tissue morphogenesis. We have recently combined functional genetics with live imaging approaches in embryos of the insect Tribolium castaneum, in order to understand their remarkable transformation from a uniform single-layered blastoderm into a condensed multi-layered embryo covered by extensive extra-embryonic tissues. We first developed a quick and reliable methodology to fluorescently label various cell components in entire Tribolium embryos. Live imaging of labeled embryos at single cell resolution provided detailed descriptions of cell behaviors and tissue movements during normal embryogenesis. We then compared cell and tissue dynamics between wild-type and genetically perturbed embryos that exhibited altered relative proportions of constituent tissues. This systematic comparison led to a qualitative model of the molecular, cellular and tissue interactions that orchestrate the observed epithelial rearrangements. We expect this work to establish the Tribolium embryo as a powerful and attractive model system for biologists and biophysicists interested in the molecular, cellular and mechanical control of tissue morphogenesis.

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    02/09/14 | Independent optical excitation of distinct neural populations.
    Klapoetke NC, Murata Y, Kim SS, Pulver SR, Birdsey-Benson A, Cho YK, Morimoto TK, Chuong AS, Carpenter EJ, Tian Z, Wang J, Xie Y, Yan Z, Zhang Y, Chow BY, Surek B, Melkonian M, Jayaraman V, Constantine-Paton M, Wong GK, Boyden ES
    Nature Methods. 2014 Feb 9;11:338-46. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2836

    Optogenetic tools enable examination of how specific cell types contribute to brain circuit functions. A long-standing question is whether it is possible to independently activate two distinct neural populations in mammalian brain tissue. Such a capability would enable the study of how different synapses or pathways interact to encode information in the brain. Here we describe two channelrhodopsins, Chronos and Chrimson, discovered through sequencing and physiological characterization of opsins from over 100 species of alga. Chrimson’s excitation spectrum is red shifted by 45 nm relative to previous channelrhodopsins and can enable experiments in which red light is preferred. We show minimal visual system-mediated behavioral interference when using Chrimson in neurobehavioral studies in Drosophila melanogaster. Chronos has faster kinetics than previous channelrhodopsins yet is effectively more light sensitive. Together these two reagents enable two-color activation of neural spiking and downstream synaptic transmission in independent neural populations without detectable cross-talk in mouse brain slice.

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    02/07/14 | Distribution of ESCRT machinery at HIV assembly sites reveals virus scaffolding of ESCRT subunits.
    Van Engelenburg SB, Shtengel G, Sengupta P, Waki K, Jarnik M, Ablan SD, Freed EO, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2014 Feb 7;343(6171):653-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1247786

    The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hijacks the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) to mediate virus release from infected cells. The nanoscale organization of ESCRT machinery necessary for mediating viral abscission is unclear. Here, we applied three-dimensional superresolution microscopy and correlative electron microscopy to delineate the organization of ESCRT components at HIV assembly sites. We observed ESCRT subunits localized within the head of budding virions and released particles, with head-localized levels of CHMP2A decreasing relative to Tsg101 and CHMP4B upon virus abscission. Thus, the driving force for HIV release may derive from initial scaffolding of ESCRT subunits within the viral bud interior followed by plasma membrane association and selective remodeling of ESCRT subunits.

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    02/06/14 | Automated detection of synapses in serial section transmission electron microscopy image stacks.
    Kreshuk A, Koethe U, Pax E, Bock DD, Hamprecht FA
    PloS one. 2014;9:e87351. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087351

    We describe a method for fully automated detection of chemical synapses in serial electron microscopy images with highly anisotropic axial and lateral resolution, such as images taken on transmission electron microscopes. Our pipeline starts from classification of the pixels based on 3D pixel features, which is followed by segmentation with an Ising model MRF and another classification step, based on object-level features. Classifiers are learned on sparse user labels; a fully annotated data subvolume is not required for training. The algorithm was validated on a set of 238 synapses in 20 serial 7197×7351 pixel images (4.5×4.5×45 nm resolution) of mouse visual cortex, manually labeled by three independent human annotators and additionally re-verified by an expert neuroscientist. The error rate of the algorithm (12% false negative, 7% false positive detections) is better than state-of-the-art, even though, unlike the state-of-the-art method, our algorithm does not require a prior segmentation of the image volume into cells. The software is based on the ilastik learning and segmentation toolkit and the vigra image processing library and is freely available on our website, along with the test data and gold standard annotations (

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    Wu Lab
    02/06/14 | The catalytic subunit of the SWR1 remodeler is a histone chaperone for the H2A.Z-H2B dimer.
    Hong J, Feng H, Wang F, Ranjan A, Chen J, Jiang J, Ghirlando R, Xiao TS, Wu C, Bai Y
    Molecular Cell. 2014 Feb 6;53:498-505. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.01.010

    Histone variant H2A.Z-containing nucleosomes exist at most eukaryotic promoters and play important roles in gene transcription and genome stability. The multisubunit nucleosome-remodeling enzyme complex SWR1, conserved from yeast to mammals, catalyzes the ATP-dependent replacement of histone H2A in canonical nucleosomes with H2A.Z. How SWR1 catalyzes the replacement reaction is largely unknown. Here, we determined the crystal structure of the N-terminal region (599-627) of the catalytic subunit Swr1, termed Swr1-Z domain, in complex with the H2A.Z-H2B dimer at 1.78 Å resolution. The Swr1-Z domain forms a 310 helix and an irregular chain. A conserved LxxLF motif in the Swr1-Z 310 helix specifically recognizes the αC helix of H2A.Z. Our results show that the Swr1-Z domain can deliver the H2A.Z-H2B dimer to the DNA-(H3-H4)2 tetrasome to form the nucleosome by a histone chaperone mechanism.

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    Druckmann LabMagee Lab
    02/05/14 | Structured synaptic connectivity between hippocampal regions.
    Shaul Druckmann , Feng L, Lee B, Yook C, Zhao T, Magee JC, Kim J
    Neuron. 2014 Feb 5;81:629-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.11.026

    The organization of synaptic connectivity within a neuronal circuit is a prime determinant of circuit function. We performed a comprehensive fine-scale circuit mapping of hippocampal regions (CA3-CA1) using the newly developed synapse labeling method, mGRASP. This mapping revealed spatially nonuniform and clustered synaptic connectivity patterns. Furthermore, synaptic clustering was enhanced between groups of neurons that shared a similar developmental/migration time window, suggesting a mechanism for establishing the spatial structure of synaptic connectivity. Such connectivity patterns are thought to effectively engage active dendritic processing and storage mechanisms, thereby potentially enhancing neuronal feature selectivity.

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    02/03/14 | Cellular and behavioral functions of fruitless isoforms in Drosophila courtship.
    von Philipsborn AC, Jörchel S, Tirian L, Demir E, Morita T, Stern DL, Dickson BJ
    Current Biology . 2014 Feb 3;24:242-51. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.015

    BACKGROUND: Male-specific products of the fruitless (fru) gene control the development and function of neuronal circuits that underlie male-specific behaviors in Drosophila, including courtship. Alternative splicing generates at least three distinct Fru isoforms, each containing a different zinc-finger domain. Here, we examine the expression and function of each of these isoforms. RESULTS: We show that most fru(+) cells express all three isoforms, yet each isoform has a distinct function in the elaboration of sexually dimorphic circuitry and behavior. The strongest impairment in courtship behavior is observed in fru(C) mutants, which fail to copulate, lack sine song, and do not generate courtship song in the absence of visual stimuli. Cellular dimorphisms in the fru circuit are dependent on Fru(C) rather than other single Fru isoforms. Removal of Fru(C) from the neuronal classes vAB3 or aSP4 leads to cell-autonomous feminization of arborizations and loss of courtship in the dark. CONCLUSIONS: These data map specific aspects of courtship behavior to the level of single fru isoforms and fru(+) cell types-an important step toward elucidating the chain of causality from gene to circuit to behavior.

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