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236 Publications

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    11/06/14 | Anesthetized- and awake-patched whole-cell recordings in freely moving rats using UV-cured collar-based electrode stabilization.
    Lee D, Shtengel G, Osborne JE, Lee AK
    Nature Protocols. 2014 Nov 06;9(12):2784-95. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2014.190

    Intracellular recording allows precise measurement and manipulation of individual neurons, but it requires stable mechanical contact between the electrode and the cell membrane, and thus it has remained challenging to perform in behaving animals. Whole-cell recordings in freely moving animals can be obtained by rigidly fixing ('anchoring') the pipette electrode to the head; however, previous anchoring procedures were slow and often caused substantial pipette movement, resulting in loss of the recording or of recording quality. We describe a UV-transparent collar and UV-cured adhesive technique that rapidly (within 15 s) anchors pipettes in place with virtually no movement, thus substantially improving the reliability, yield and quality of freely moving whole-cell recordings. Recordings are first obtained from anesthetized or awake head-fixed rats. UV light cures the thin adhesive layers linking pipette to collar to head. Then, the animals are rapidly and smoothly released for recording during unrestrained behavior. The anesthetized-patched version can be completed in ∼4-7 h (excluding histology) and the awake-patched version requires ∼1-4 h per day for ∼2 weeks. These advances should greatly facilitate studies of neuronal integration and plasticity in identified cells during natural behaviors.

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    11/06/14 | The Microtubule Minus-End-Binding Protein Patronin/PTRN-1 Is Required for Axon Regeneration in C. elegans
    Marian Chuang , Alexandr Goncharov , Shaohe Wang , Karen Oegema , Yishi Jin , Andrew D. Chisholm
    Cell Reports. 11/2014;9:874-883. doi:

    Summary Precise regulation of microtubule (MT) dynamics is increasingly recognized as a critical determinant of axon regeneration. In contrast to developing neurons, mature axons exhibit noncentrosomal microtubule nucleation. The factors regulating noncentrosomal MT architecture in axon regeneration remain poorly understood. We report that PTRN-1, the C. elegans member of the Patronin/Nezha/calmodulin- and spectrin-associated protein (CAMSAP) family of microtubule minus-end-binding proteins, is critical for efficient axon regeneration in vivo. ptrn-1-null mutants display generally normal developmental axon outgrowth but significantly impaired regenerative regrowth after laser axotomy. Unexpectedly, mature axons in ptrn-1 mutants display elevated numbers of dynamic axonal MTs before and after injury, suggesting that PTRN-1 inhibits MT dynamics. The CKK domain of PTRN-1 is necessary and sufficient for its functions in axon regeneration and MT dynamics and appears to stabilize MTs independent of minus-end localization. Whereas in developing neurons, PTRN-1 inhibits activity of the DLK-1 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade, we find that, in regeneration, PTRN-1 and DLK-1 function together to promote axonal regrowth.

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    Chklovskii Lab
    11/05/14 | A neuron as a signal processing device
    Tao Hu , Towfic Z, Pehlevan C, Genkin A, Chklovskii D
    2013 Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems and Computers. 05/2014:. doi: 10.1109/ACSSC.2013.6810296

    A neuron is a basic physiological and computational unit of the brain. While much is known about the physiological properties of a neuron, its computational role is poorly understood. Here we propose to view a neuron as a signal processing device that represents the incoming streaming data matrix as a sparse vector of synaptic weights scaled by an outgoing sparse activity vector. Formally, a neuron minimizes a cost function comprising a cumulative squared representation error and regularization terms. We derive an online algorithm that minimizes such cost function by alternating between the minimization with respect to activity and with respect to synaptic weights. The steps of this algorithm reproduce well-known physiological properties of a neuron, such as weighted summation and leaky integration of synaptic inputs, as well as an Oja-like, but parameter-free, synaptic learning rule. Our theoretical framework makes several predictions, some of which can be verified by the existing data, others require further experiments. Such framework should allow modeling the function of neuronal circuits without necessarily measuring all the microscopic biophysical parameters, as well as facilitate the design of neuromorphic electronics.

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    11/05/14 | Cell-type-specific repression by methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 is biased toward long genes.
    Sugino K, Hempel CM, Okaty BW, Arnson HA, Kato S, Dani VS, Nelson SB
    Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Sep 17;34(38):12877-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2674-14.2014

    Mutations in methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (MeCP2) cause Rett syndrome and related autism spectrum disorders (Amir et al., 1999). MeCP2 is believed to be required for proper regulation of brain gene expression, but prior microarray studies in Mecp2 knock-out mice using brain tissue homogenates have revealed only subtle changes in gene expression (Tudor et al., 2002; Nuber et al., 2005; Jordan et al., 2007; Chahrour et al., 2008). Here, by profiling discrete subtypes of neurons we uncovered more dramatic effects of MeCP2 on gene expression, overcoming the "dilution problem" associated with assaying homogenates of complex tissues. The results reveal misregulation of genes involved in neuronal connectivity and communication. Importantly, genes upregulated following loss of MeCP2 are biased toward longer genes but this is not true for downregulated genes, suggesting MeCP2 may selectively repress long genes. Because genes involved in neuronal connectivity and communication, such as cell adhesion and cell-cell signaling genes, are enriched among longer genes, their misregulation following loss of MeCP2 suggests a possible etiology for altered circuit function in Rett syndrome.

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    11/05/14 | Flat clathrin lattices: stable features of the plasma membrane.
    Grove J, Metcalf DJ, Knight AE, Wavre-Shapton ST, Sun T, Protonotarios ED, Griffin LD, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Marsh M
    Molecular biology of the cell. 2014 Nov 5;25(22):3581-94. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E14-06-1154

    Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is a fundamental property of eukaryotic cells. Classical CME proceeds via the formation of clathrin-coated pits (CCPs) at the plasma membrane, which invaginate to form clathrin-coated vesicles, a process that is well understood. However, clathrin also assembles into flat clathrin lattices (FCLs); these structures remain poorly described, and their contribution to cell biology is unclear. We used quantitative imaging to provide the first comprehensive description of FCLs and explore their influence on plasma membrane organization. Ultrastructural analysis by electron and superresolution microscopy revealed two discrete populations of clathrin structures. CCPs were typified by their sphericity, small size, and homogeneity. FCLs were planar, large, and heterogeneous and present on both the dorsal and ventral surfaces of cells. Live microscopy demonstrated that CCPs are short lived and culminate in a peak of dynamin recruitment, consistent with classical CME. In contrast, FCLs were long lived, with sustained association with dynamin. We investigated the biological relevance of FCLs using the chemokine receptor CCR5 as a model system. Agonist activation leads to sustained recruitment of CCR5 to FCLs. Quantitative molecular imaging indicated that FCLs partitioned receptors at the cell surface. Our observations suggest that FCLs provide stable platforms for the recruitment of endocytic cargo.

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    11/05/14 | Quantitative biology: where modern biology meets physical sciences.
    Shekhar S, Zhu L, Mazutis L, Sgro AE, Fai TG, Podolski M
    Mol Biol Cell. 11/2014;25(22):3482-5. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E14-08-1286

    Quantitative methods and approaches have been playing an increasingly important role in cell biology in recent years. They involve making accurate measurements to test a predefined hypothesis in order to compare experimental data with predictions generated by theoretical models, an approach that has benefited physicists for decades. Building quantitative models in experimental biology not only has led to discoveries of counterintuitive phenomena but has also opened up novel research directions. To make the biological sciences more quantitative, we believe a two-pronged approach needs to be taken. First, graduate training needs to be revamped to ensure biology students are adequately trained in physical and mathematical sciences and vice versa. Second, students of both the biological and the physical sciences need to be provided adequate opportunities for hands-on engagement with the methods and approaches necessary to be able to work at the intersection of the biological and physical sciences. We present the annual Physiology Course organized at the Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, MA) as a case study for a hands-on training program that gives young scientists the opportunity not only to acquire the tools of quantitative biology but also to develop the necessary thought processes that will enable them to bridge the gap between these disciplines.

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    11/05/14 | Quantitative cell biology: transforming the conceptual, theoretical, instrumental, and methodological approaches to cell biology.
    Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Molecular biology of the cell. 2014 Nov 5;25(22):3437. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E14-08-1297
    11/03/14 | Protecting integrated circuits from piracy with test-aware logic locking.
    Plaza SM, Markov IL
    ICCAD '14 Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Computer-Aided Design. 2014 Nov 03:262-269. doi: 10.1109/ICCAD.2014.7001361

    The increasing IC manufacturing cost encourages a business model where design houses outsource IC fabrication to remote foundries. Despite cost savings, this model exposes design houses to IC piracy as remote foundries can manufacture in excess to sell on the black market. Recent efforts in digital hardware security aim to thwart piracy by using XOR-based chip locking, cryptography, and active metering. To counter direct attacks and lower the exposure of unlocked circuits to the foundry, we introduce a multiplexor-based locking strategy that preserves test response allowing IC testing by an untrusted party before activation. We demonstrate a simple yet effective attack against a locked circuit that does not preserve test response, and validate the effectiveness of our locking strategy on IWLS 2005 benchmarks.

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    Kainmueller Lab
    11/01/14 | Active graph matching for automatic joint segmentation and annotation of C. elegans.
    Kainmueller D, Jug F, Rother C, Myers G
    Medical image computing and computer-assisted intervention : MICCAI ... International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 2014;17(Pt 1):81-8

    In this work we present a novel technique we term active graph matching, which integrates the popular active shape model into a sparse graph matching problem. This way we are able to combine the benefits of a global, statistical deformation model with the benefits of a local deformation model in form of a second-order random field. We present a new iterative energy minimization technique which achieves empirically good results. This enables us to exceed state-of-the art results for the task of annotating nuclei in 3D microscopic images of C. elegans. Furthermore with the help of the generalized Hough transform we are able to jointly segment and annotate a large set of nuclei in a fully automatic fashion for the first time.

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    10/29/14 | Distinct substrate selectivity of a metabolic hydrolase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
    Lukowski JK, Savas CP, Gehring AM, McKary MG, Adkins CT, Lavis LD, Hoops GC, Johnson RJ
    Biochemistry. 2014 Oct 29;53(47):7386-95. doi: 10.1021/bi501108u

    The transition between dormant and active Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection requires reorganization of its lipid metabolism and activation of a battery of serine hydrolase enzymes. Among these serine hydrolases, Rv0045c is a mycobacterial-specific serine hydrolase with limited sequence homology outside mycobacteria but structural homology to divergent bacterial hydrolase families. Herein, we determined the global substrate specificity of Rv0045c against a library of fluorogenic hydrolase substrates, constructed a combined experimental and computational model for its binding pocket, and performed comprehensive substitutional analysis to develop a structural map of its binding pocket. Rv0045c showed strong substrate selectivity toward short, straight chain alkyl esters with the highest activity toward four atom chains. This strong substrate preference was maintained through the combined action of residues in a flexible loop connecting the cap and α/β hydrolase domains and in residues close to the catalytic triad. Two residues bracketing the substrate-binding pocket (Gly90 and His187) were essential to maintaining the narrow substrate selectivity of Rv0045c toward various acyl ester substituents, as independent conversion of these residues significantly increased its catalytic activity and broadened its substrate specificity. Focused saturation mutagenesis of position 187 implicated this residue, as the differentiation point between the substrate specificity of Rv0045c and the structurally homologous ybfF hydrolase family. Insertion of the analogous tyrosine residue from ybfF hydrolases into Rv0045c increased the catalytic activity of Rv0045 by over 20-fold toward diverse ester substrates. The unique binding pocket structure and selectivity of Rv0045c provide molecular indications of its biological role and evidence for expanded substrate diversity in serine hydrolases from M. tuberculosis.

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