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236 Publications

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    09/25/14 | Behavioral variability through stochastic choice and its gating by anterior cingulate cortex.
    Tervo DG, Proskurin M, Manakov M, Kabra M, Vollmer A, Branson K, Karpova AY
    Cell. 2014 Sep 25;159(1):21-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.08.037

    Behavioral choices that ignore prior experience promote exploration and unpredictability but are seemingly at odds with the brain's tendency to use experience to optimize behavioral choice. Indeed, when faced with virtual competitors, primates resort to strategic counterprediction rather than to stochastic choice. Here, we show that rats also use history- and model-based strategies when faced with similar competitors but can switch to a "stochastic" mode when challenged with a competitor that they cannot defeat by counterprediction. In this mode, outcomes associated with an animal's actions are ignored, and normal engagement of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is suppressed. Using circuit perturbations in transgenic rats, we demonstrate that switching between strategic and stochastic behavioral modes is controlled by locus coeruleus input into ACC. Our findings suggest that, under conditions of uncertainty about environmental rules, changes in noradrenergic input alter ACC output and prevent erroneous beliefs from guiding decisions, thus enabling behavioral variation.

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    09/15/14 | Intrinsic bursting of aII amacrine cells underlies oscillations in the rd1 mouse retina.
    Choi H, Zhang L, Cembrowski MS, Sabottke CF, Markowitz AL, Butts DA, Kath WL, Singer JH, Riecke H
    Journal of Neurophysiology. 2014 Sep 15;112(6):1491-504. doi: 10.1152/jn.00437.2014

    In many forms of retinal degeneration, photoreceptors die but inner retinal circuits remain intact. In the rd1 mouse, an established model for blinding retinal diseases, spontaneous activity in the coupled network of AII amacrine and ON cone bipolar cells leads to rhythmic bursting of ganglion cells. Since such activity could impair retinal and/or cortical responses to restored photoreceptor function, understanding its nature is important for developing treatments of retinal pathologies. Here we analyzed a compartmental model of the wild-type mouse AII amacrine cell to predict that the cell's intrinsic membrane properties, specifically, interacting fast Na and slow, M-type K conductances, would allow its membrane potential to oscillate when light-evoked excitatory synaptic inputs were withdrawn following photoreceptor degeneration. We tested and confirmed this hypothesis experimentally by recording from AIIs in a slice preparation of rd1 retina. Additionally, recordings from ganglion cells in a whole mount preparation of rd1 retina demonstrated that activity in AIIs was propagated unchanged to elicit bursts of action potentials in ganglion cells. We conclude that oscillations are not an emergent property of a degenerated retinal network. Rather, they arise largely from the intrinsic properties of a single retinal interneuron, the AII amacrine cell.

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    Murphy Lab
    10/01/14 | Distinct representation and distribution of visual information by specific cell types in mouse superficial superior colliculus.
    Gale SD, Murphy GJ
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Oct 1;34(40):13458-71. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2768-14.2014

    The superficial superior colliculus (sSC) occupies a critical node in the mammalian visual system; it is one of two major retinorecipient areas, receives visual cortical input, and innervates visual thalamocortical circuits. Nonetheless, the contribution of sSC neurons to downstream neural activity and visually guided behavior is unknown and frequently neglected. Here we identified the visual stimuli to which specific classes of sSC neurons respond, the downstream regions they target, and transgenic mice enabling class-specific manipulations. One class responds to small, slowly moving stimuli and projects exclusively to lateral posterior thalamus; another, comprising GABAergic neurons, responds to the sudden appearance or rapid movement of large stimuli and projects to multiple areas, including the lateral geniculate nucleus. A third class exhibits direction-selective responses and targets deeper SC layers. Together, our results show how specific sSC neurons represent and distribute diverse information and enable direct tests of their functional role.

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    10/01/14 | Isolation of mitochondria from cells and tissues.
    Clayton DA, Shadel GS
    Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. 2014 Oct;2014(10):pdb.top074542. doi: 10.1101/pdb.top074542

    Mitochondria are complex organelles at the center of cellular metabolism, apoptosis, and signaling. They continue to be the subject of intense basic investigation to understand their composition and function, but they have also captivated the attention of clinical researchers because of the growing knowledge of the (sometimes unexpected) roles of mitochondria in human diseases and aging. A full understanding of these intriguing organelles often requires their purification from cells or tissues under specific physiological or pathological conditions. Here we provide some introductory considerations for those interested in purifying mitochondria for subsequent downstream biophysical, structural, and functional analysis.

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    Simpson Lab
    08/19/14 | A suppression hierarchy among competing motor programs drives sequential grooming in Drosophila.
    Seeds AM, Ravbar P, Chung P, Hampel S, Midgley FM, Mensh BD, Simpson JH
    eLife. 2014 Aug 19;3:e02951. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02951

    Motor sequences are formed through the serial execution of different movements, but how nervous systems implement this process remains largely unknown. We determined the organizational principles governing how dirty fruit flies groom their bodies with sequential movements. Using genetically targeted activation of neural subsets, we drove distinct motor programs that clean individual body parts. This enabled competition experiments revealing that the motor programs are organized into a suppression hierarchy; motor programs that occur first suppress those that occur later. Cleaning one body part reduces the sensory drive to its motor program, which relieves suppression of the next movement, allowing the grooming sequence to progress down the hierarchy. A model featuring independently evoked cleaning movements activated in parallel, but selected serially through hierarchical suppression, was successful in reproducing the grooming sequence. This provides the first example of an innate motor sequence implemented by the prevailing model for generating human action sequences.

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    06/01/14 | Atlas-builder software and the eNeuro atlas: resources for developmental biology and neuroscience.
    Heckscher ES, Long F, Layden MJ, Chuang C, Manning L, Richart J, Pearson JC, Crews ST, Peng H, Myers E, Doe CQ
    Development. 2014 Jun;141(12):2524-32. doi: 10.1242/dev.108720

    A major limitation in understanding embryonic development is the lack of cell type-specific markers. Existing gene expression and marker atlases provide valuable tools, but they typically have one or more limitations: a lack of single-cell resolution; an inability to register multiple expression patterns to determine their precise relationship; an inability to be upgraded by users; an inability to compare novel patterns with the database patterns; and a lack of three-dimensional images. Here, we develop new 'atlas-builder' software that overcomes each of these limitations. A newly generated atlas is three-dimensional, allows the precise registration of an infinite number of cell type-specific markers, is searchable and is open-ended. Our software can be used to create an atlas of any tissue in any organism that contains stereotyped cell positions. We used the software to generate an 'eNeuro' atlas of the Drosophila embryonic CNS containing eight transcription factors that mark the major CNS cell types (motor neurons, glia, neurosecretory cells and interneurons). We found neuronal, but not glial, nuclei occupied stereotyped locations. We added 75 new Gal4 markers to the atlas to identify over 50% of all interneurons in the ventral CNS, and these lines allowed functional access to those interneurons for the first time. We expect the atlas-builder software to benefit a large proportion of the developmental biology community, and the eNeuro atlas to serve as a publicly accessible hub for integrating neuronal attributes - cell lineage, gene expression patterns, axon/dendrite projections, neurotransmitters--and linking them to individual neurons.

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    08/14/14 | Reactivation of developmentally silenced globin genes by forced chromatin looping.
    Deng W, Rupon JW, Krivega I, Breda L, Motta I, Jahn KS, Reik A, Gregory PD, Rivella S, Dean A, Blobel GA
    Cell. 2014 Aug 14;158(4):849-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.05.050

    Distal enhancers commonly contact target promoters via chromatin looping. In erythroid cells, the locus control region (LCR) contacts β-type globin genes in a developmental stage-specific manner to stimulate transcription. Previously, we induced LCR-promoter looping by tethering the self-association domain (SA) of Ldb1 to the β-globin promoter via artificial zinc fingers. Here, we show that targeting the SA to a developmentally silenced embryonic globin gene in adult murine erythroblasts triggers its transcriptional reactivation. This activity depends on the LCR, consistent with an LCR-promoter looping mechanism. Strikingly, targeting the SA to the fetal γ-globin promoter in primary adult human erythroblasts increases γ-globin promoter-LCR contacts, stimulating transcription to approximately 85% of total β-globin synthesis, with a reciprocal reduction in adult β-globin expression. Our findings demonstrate that forced chromatin looping can override a stringent developmental gene expression program and suggest a novel approach to control the balance of globin gene transcription for therapeutic applications.

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    08/19/14 | Shared mushroom body circuits underlie visual and olfactory memories in Drosophila.
    Vogt K, Schnaitmann C, Dylla KV, Knapek S, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H
    eLife. 2014;3:e02395. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02395

    In nature, animals form memories associating reward or punishment with stimuli from different sensory modalities, such as smells and colors. It is unclear, however, how distinct sensory memories are processed in the brain. We established appetitive and aversive visual learning assays for Drosophila that are comparable to the widely used olfactory learning assays. These assays share critical features, such as reinforcing stimuli (sugar reward and electric shock punishment), and allow direct comparison of the cellular requirements for visual and olfactory memories. We found that the same subsets of dopamine neurons drive formation of both sensory memories. Furthermore, distinct yet partially overlapping subsets of mushroom body intrinsic neurons are required for visual and olfactory memories. Thus, our results suggest that distinct sensory memories are processed in a common brain center. Such centralization of related brain functions is an economical design that avoids the repetition of similar circuit motifs.

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    Looger LabSvoboda LabGENIE
    01/01/14 | Thy1 - GCaMP6 transgenic mice for neuronal population imaging in vivo.
    Dana H, Chen T, Hu A, Shields BC, Cui G, Looger L, Kim DS, Svoboda K
    PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e108697. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108697

    Genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) facilitate imaging activity of genetically defined neuronal populations in vivo. The high intracellular GECI concentrations required for in vivo imaging are usually achieved by viral gene transfer using adeno-associated viruses. Transgenic expression of GECIs promises important advantages, including homogeneous, repeatable, and stable expression without the need for invasive virus injections. Here we present the generation and characterization of transgenic mice expressing the GECIs GCaMP6s or GCaMP6f under the Thy1 promoter. We quantified GCaMP6 expression across brain regions and neurons and compared to other transgenic mice and AAV-mediated expression. We tested three mouse lines for imaging in the visual cortex in vivo and compared their performance to mice injected with AAV expressing GCaMP6. Furthermore, we show that GCaMP6 Thy1 transgenic mice are useful for long-term, high-sensitivity imaging in behaving mice.

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    Ji Lab
    09/17/14 | The practical and fundamental limits of optical imaging in mammalian brains.
    Ji N
    Neuron. 2014 Sep 17;83(6):1242-1245. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.009

    Advances in chemistry and physics have profound effects on neuroimaging. Current and future progress in these disciplines will continue to aid in efforts to visualize neural circuitry, particularly in deeper layers of the brain.

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