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249 Publications

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    Jayaraman LabBaker Lab
    09/21/15 | Central neural circuitry mediating courtship song perception in male Drosophila.
    Zhou C, Franconville R, Vaughan AG, Robinett CC, Jayaraman V, Baker BS
    eLife. 2015 Sep 21;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08477

    Animals use acoustic signals across a variety of social behaviors, particularly courtship. In Drosophila, song is detected by antennal mechanosensory neurons and further processed by second-order aPN1/aLN(al) neurons. However, little is known about the central pathways mediating courtship hearing. In this study, we identified a male-specific pathway for courtship hearing via third-order ventrolateral protocerebrum Projection Neuron 1 (vPN1) neurons and fourth-order pC1 neurons. Genetic inactivation of vPN1 or pC1 disrupts song-induced male-chaining behavior. Calcium imaging reveals that vPN1 responds preferentially to pulse song with long inter-pulse intervals (IPIs), while pC1 responses to pulse song closely match the behavioral chaining responses at different IPIs. Moreover, genetic activation of either vPN1 or pC1 induced courtship chaining, mimicking the behavioral response to song. These results outline the aPN1-vPN1-pC1 pathway as a labeled line for the processing and transformation of courtship song in males.

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    Schreiter LabLooger Lab
    09/18/15 | Green-to-red photoconversion of GCaMP.
    Ai M, Mills H, Kanai M, Lai J, Deng J, Schreiter E, Looger L, Neubert T, Suh G
    PLoS One. 2015 Sep 18;10(9):e0138127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138127

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) permit imaging intracellular calcium transients. Among GECIs, the GFP-based GCaMPs are the most widely used because of their high sensitivity and rapid response to changes in intracellular calcium concentrations. Here we report that the fluorescence of GCaMPs-including GCaMP3, GCaMP5 and GCaMP6-can be converted from green to red following exposure to blue-green light (450-500 nm). This photoconversion occurs in both insect and mammalian cells and is enhanced in a low oxygen environment. The red fluorescent GCaMPs retained calcium responsiveness, albeit with reduced sensitivity. We identified several amino acid residues in GCaMP important for photoconversion and generated a GCaMP variant with increased photoconversion efficiency in cell culture. This light-induced spectral shift allows the ready labeling of specific, targeted sets of GCaMP-expressing cells for functional imaging in the red channel. Together, these findings indicate the potential for greater utility of existing GCaMP reagents, including transgenic animals.

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    09/14/15 | Evolving genital structures: A deep look at network co-option.
    Preger-Ben Noon E, Frankel N
    Developmental Cell. 2015 Sep 14;34(5):485-6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.08.022

    Novel body structures are often generated by the redeployment of ancestral components of the genome. In this issue of Developmental Cell, Glassford et al. (2015) present a thorough analysis of the co-option of a gene regulatory network in the origin of an evolutionary novelty.

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    09/14/15 | Whole-brain activity mapping onto a zebrafish brain atlas.
    Randlett O, Wee CL, Naumann EA, Nnaemeka O, Schoppik D, Fitzgerald JE, Portugues R, Lacoste AM, Riegler C, Engert F, Schier AF
    Nature methods. 2015 Nov;12(11):1039-46. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3581

    In order to localize the neural circuits involved in generating behaviors, it is necessary to assign activity onto anatomical maps of the nervous system. Using brain registration across hundreds of larval zebrafish, we have built an expandable open-source atlas containing molecular labels and definitions of anatomical regions, the Z-Brain. Using this platform and immunohistochemical detection of phosphorylated extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) as a readout of neural activity, we have developed a system to create and contextualize whole-brain maps of stimulus- and behavior-dependent neural activity. This mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP)-mapping assay is technically simple, and data analysis is completely automated. Because MAP-mapping is performed on freely swimming fish, it is applicable to studies of nearly any stimulus or behavior. Here we demonstrate our high-throughput approach using pharmacological, visual and noxious stimuli, as well as hunting and feeding. The resultant maps outline hundreds of areas associated with behaviors.

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    Sternson Lab
    09/11/15 | Cell type-specific pharmacology of NMDA receptors using masked MK801.
    Yang Y, Lee P, Sternson SM
    eLife. 2015 Sep 11;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10206

    N-Methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDA-Rs) are ion channels that are important for synaptic plasticity, which is involved in learning and drug addiction. We show enzymatic targeting of an NMDA-R antagonist, MK801, to a molecularly defined neuronal population with the cell-type-selectivity of genetic methods and the temporal control of pharmacology. We find that NMDA-Rs on dopamine neurons are necessary for cocaine-induced synaptic potentiation, demonstrating that cell type-specific pharmacology can be used to dissect signaling pathways within complex brain circuits.

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    09/10/15 | Dopamine is required for the neural representation and control of movement vigor.
    Panigrahi B, Martin KA, Li Y, Graves AR, Vollmer A, Olson L, Mensh BD, Karpova AY, Dudman JT
    Cell. 2015 Sep 10;162(6):1418-30. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.014

    Progressive depletion of midbrain dopamine neurons (PDD) is associated with deficits in the initiation, speed, and fluidity of voluntary movement. Models of basal ganglia function focus on initiation deficits; however, it is unclear how they account for deficits in the speed or amplitude of movement (vigor). Using an effort-based operant conditioning task for head-fixed mice, we discovered distinct functional classes of neurons in the dorsal striatum that represent movement vigor. Mice with PDD exhibited a progressive reduction in vigor, along with a selective impairment of its neural representation in striatum. Restoration of dopaminergic tone with a synthetic precursor ameliorated deficits in movement vigor and its neural representation, while suppression of striatal activity during movement was sufficient to reduce vigor. Thus, dopaminergic input to the dorsal striatum is indispensable for the emergence of striatal activity that mediates adaptive changes in movement vigor. These results suggest refined intervention strategies for Parkinson’s disease.

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    09/10/15 | Ankyrin Repeats Convey Force to Gate the NOMPC Mechanotransduction Channel.
    Zhang W, Cheng LE, Kittelmann M, Li J, Petkovic M, Cheng T, Jin P, Guo Z, Göpfert MC, Jan LY, Jan YN
    Cell. 09/2015;162(6):1391-403. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.024

    How metazoan mechanotransduction channels sense mechanical stimuli is not well understood. The NOMPC channel in the transient receptor potential (TRP) family, a mechanotransduction channel for Drosophila touch sensation and hearing, contains 29 Ankyrin repeats (ARs) that associate with microtubules. These ARs have been postulated to act as a tether that conveys force to the channel. Here, we report that these N-terminal ARs form a cytoplasmic domain essential for NOMPC mechanogating in vitro, mechanosensitivity of touch receptor neurons in vivo, and touch-induced behaviors of Drosophila larvae. Duplicating the ARs elongates the filaments that tether NOMPC to microtubules in mechanosensory neurons. Moreover, microtubule association is required for NOMPC mechanogating. Importantly, transferring the NOMPC ARs to mechanoinsensitive voltage-gated potassium channels confers mechanosensitivity to the chimeric channels. These experiments strongly support a tether mechanism of mechanogating for the NOMPC channel, providing insights into the basis of mechanosensitivity of mechanotransduction channels.

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    09/09/15 | Connecting neural codes with behavior in the auditory system of Drosophila.
    Clemens J, Girardin CC, Coen P, Guan X, Dickson BJ, Murthy M
    Neuron. 2015 Sep 9;87(6):1332-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.08.014

    Brains are optimized for processing ethologically relevant sensory signals. However, few studies have characterized the neural coding mechanisms that underlie the transformation from natural sensory information to behavior. Here, we focus on acoustic communication in Drosophila melanogaster and use computational modeling to link natural courtship song, neuronal codes, and female behavioral responses to song. We show that melanogaster females are sensitive to long timescale song structure (on the order of tens of seconds). From intracellular recordings, we generate models that recapitulate neural responses to acoustic stimuli. We link these neural codes with female behavior by generating model neural responses to natural courtship song. Using a simple decoder, we predict female behavioral responses to the same song stimuli with high accuracy. Our modeling approach reveals how long timescale song features are represented by the Drosophila brain and how neural representations can be decoded to generate behavioral selectivity for acoustic communication signals.

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    Gonen Lab
    09/09/15 | Structure of the toxic core of α-synuclein from invisible crystals.
    Rodriguez JA, Ivanova MI, Sawaya MR, Cascio D, Reyes FE, Shi D, Sangwan S, Guenther EL, Johnson LM, Zhang M, Jiang L, Arbing MA, Nannenga BL, Hattne J, Whitelegge J, Brewster AS, Messerschmidt M, Boutet S, Sauter NK, Gonen T, Eisenberg DS
    Nature. 2015 Sep 9;525(7570):486-90. doi: 10.1038/nature15368

    The protein α-synuclein is the main component of Lewy bodies, the neuron-associated aggregates seen in Parkinson disease and other neurodegenerative pathologies. An 11-residue segment, which we term NACore, appears to be responsible for amyloid formation and cytotoxicity of human α-synuclein. Here we describe crystals of NACore that have dimensions smaller than the wavelength of visible light and thus are invisible by optical microscopy. As the crystals are thousands of times too small for structure determination by synchrotron X-ray diffraction, we use micro-electron diffraction to determine the structure at atomic resolution. The 1.4 Å resolution structure demonstrates that this method can determine previously unknown protein structures and here yields, to our knowledge, the highest resolution achieved by any cryo-electron microscopy method to date. The structure exhibits protofibrils built of pairs of face-to-face β-sheets. X-ray fibre diffraction patterns show the similarity of NACore to toxic fibrils of full-length α-synuclein. The NACore structure, together with that of a second segment, inspires a model for most of the ordered portion of the toxic, full-length α-synuclein fibril, presenting opportunities for the design of inhibitors of α-synuclein fibrils.

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    Simpson Lab
    09/07/15 | A neural command circuit for grooming movement control.
    Hampel S, Franconville R, Simpson JH, Seeds AM
    eLife. 2015 Sep 7;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08758

    Animals perform many stereotyped movements, but how nervous systems are organized for controlling specific movements remains unclear. Here we use anatomical, optogenetic, behavioral, and physiological techniques to identify a circuit in Drosophila melanogaster that can elicit stereotyped leg movements that groom the antennae. Mechanosensory chordotonal neurons detect displacements of the antennae and excite three different classes of functionally connected interneurons, which include two classes of brain interneurons and different parallel descending neurons. This multilayered circuit is organized such that neurons within each layer are sufficient to specifically elicit antennal grooming. However, we find differences in the durations of antennal grooming elicited by neurons in the different layers, suggesting that the circuit is organized to both command antennal grooming and control its duration. As similar features underlie stimulus-induced movements in other animals, we infer the possibility of a common circuit organization for movement control that can be dissected in Drosophila.

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