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209 Publications

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    03/21/16 | A mammalian enhancer trap resource for discovering and manipulating neuronal cell types.
    Shima Y, Sugino K, Hempel C, Shima M, Taneja P, Bullis JB, Mehta S, Lois C, Nelson SB
    eLife. 2016 Mar 21;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13503

    There is a continuing need for driver strains to enable cell type-specific manipulation in the nervous system. Each cell type expresses a unique set of genes, and recapitulating expression of marker genes by BAC transgenesis or knock-in has generated useful transgenic mouse lines. However since genes are often expressed in many cell types, many of these lines have relatively broad expression patterns. We report an alternative transgenic approach capturing distal enhancers for more focused expression. We identified an enhancer trap probe often producing restricted reporter expression and developed efficient enhancer trap screening with the PiggyBac transposon. We established more than 200 lines and found many lines that label small subsets of neurons in brain substructures, including known and novel cell types. Images and other information about each line are available online (

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    03/21/16 | Emerging imaging and genomic tools for developmental systems biology.
    Liu Z, Keller PJ
    Developmental Cell. 2016 Mar 21;36(6):597-610. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2016.02.016

    Animal development is a complex and dynamic process orchestrated by exquisitely timed cell lineage commitment, divisions, migration, and morphological changes at the single-cell level. In the past decade, extensive genetic, stem cell, and genomic studies provided crucial insights into molecular underpinnings and the functional importance of genetic pathways governing various cellular differentiation processes. However, it is still largely unknown how the precise coordination of these pathways is achieved at the whole-organism level and how the highly regulated spatiotemporal choreography of development is established in turn. Here, we discuss the latest technological advances in imaging and single-cell genomics that hold great promise for advancing our understanding of this intricate process. We propose an integrated approach that combines such methods to quantitatively decipher in vivo cellular dynamic behaviors and their underlying molecular mechanisms at the systems level with single-cell, single-molecule resolution.

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    03/21/16 | The basal ganglia: from motor commands to the control of vigor.
    Dudman JT, Krakauer JW
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2016 Mar 21;37:158-66. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.02.005

    Vertebrates are remarkable for their ability to select and execute goal-directed actions: motor skills critical for thriving in complex, competitive environments. A key aspect of a motor skill is the ability to execute its component movements over a range of speeds, amplitudes and frequencies (vigor). Recent work has indicated that a subcortical circuit, the basal ganglia, is a critical determinant of movement vigor in rodents and primates. We propose that the basal ganglia evolved from a circuit that in lower vertebrates and some mammals is sufficient to directly command simple or stereotyped movements to one that indirectly controls the vigor of goal-directed movements. The implications of a dual role of the basal ganglia in the control of vigor and response to reward are also discussed.

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    03/18/16 | Quantitative neuroanatomy for connectomics in Drosophila.
    Schneider-Mizell CM, Gerhard S, Longair M, Kazimiers T, Li F, Zwart M, Champion A, Midgley F, Fetter RD, Saalfeld S, Cardona A
    eLife. 2016 Mar 18:e12059. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12059

    Neuronal circuit mapping using electron microscopy demands laborious proofreading or reconciliation of multiple independent reconstructions. Here, we describe new methods to apply quantitative arbor and network context to iteratively proofread and reconstruct circuits and create anatomically enriched wiring diagrams. We measured the morphological underpinnings of connectivity in new and existing reconstructions of Drosophila sensorimotor (larva) and visual (adult) systems. Synaptic inputs were preferentially located on numerous small, microtubule-free 'twigs' which branch off a single microtubule-containing 'backbone'. Omission of individual twigs accounted for 96% of errors. However, the synapses of highly connected neurons were distributed across multiple twigs. Thus, the robustness of a strong connection to detailed twig anatomy was associated with robustness to reconstruction error. By comparing iterative reconstruction to the consensus of multiple reconstructions, we show that our method overcomes the need for redundant effort through the discovery and application of relationships between cellular neuroanatomy and synaptic connectivity.

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    Neurogenesis in Drosophila occurs in two phases, embryonic and post-embryonic, in which the same set of neuroblasts give rise to the distinct larval and adult nervous systems, respectively. Here, we identified the embryonic neuroblast origin of the adult neuronal lineages in the ventral nervous system via lineage-specific GAL4 lines and molecular markers. Our lineage mapping revealed that neurons born late in the embryonic phase show axonal morphology and transcription factor profiles that are similar to the neurons born post-embryonically from the same neuroblast. Moreover, we identified three thorax-specific neuroblasts not previously characterized and show that HOX genes confine them to the thoracic segments. Two of these, NB2-3 and NB3-4, generate leg motor neurons. The other neuroblast is novel and appears to have arisen recently during insect evolution. Our findings provide a comprehensive view of neurogenesis and show how proliferation of individual neuroblasts is dictated by temporal and spatial cues.

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    03/15/16 | Practice makes perfect in memory recall.
    Romani S, Katkov M, Tsodyks M
    Learning & Memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.). 2016 Apr;23(4):169-73. doi: 10.1101/lm.041178.115

    A large variability in performance is observed when participants recall briefly presented lists of words. The sources of such variability are not known. Our analysis of a large data set of free recall revealed a small fraction of participants that reached an extremely high performance, including many trials with the recall of complete lists. Moreover, some of them developed a number of consistent input-position-dependent recall strategies, in particular recalling words consecutively ("chaining") or in groups of consecutively presented words ("chunking"). The time course of acquisition and particular choice of positional grouping were variable among participants. Our results show that acquiring positional strategies plays a crucial role in improvement of recall performance.

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    03/14/16 | Editorial overview: Neurobiology of cognitive behavior: Complexity of neural computation and cognition.
    Karpova A, Kiani R
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2016 Mar 14;37:v-viii. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.03.003
    Gonen Lab
    03/07/16 | Data publication with the structural biology data grid supports live analysis.
    Meyer PA, Socias S, Key J, Ransey E, Tjon EC, Buschiazzo A, Lei M, Botka C, Withrow J, Neau D, Rajashankar K, Anderson KS, Baxter RH, Blacklow SC, Boggon TJ, Bonvin AM, Borek D, Brett TJ, Caflisch A, Chang C, Chazin WJ, Corbett KD, Cosgrove MS, Crosson S, Dhe-Paganon S, Di Cera E, Drennan CL, Eck MJ, Eichman BF, Fan QR, Ferré-D'Amaré AR, Christopher Fromme J, Garcia KC, Gaudet R, Gong P, Harrison SC, Heldwein EE, Jia Z, Keenan RJ, Kruse AC, Kvansakul M, McLellan JS, Modis Y, Nam Y, Otwinowski Z, Pai EF, Pereira PJ, Petosa C, Raman CS, Rapoport TA, Roll-Mecak A, Rosen MK, Rudenko G, Schlessinger J, Schwartz TU, Shamoo Y, Sondermann H, Tao YJ, Tolia NH, Tsodikov OV, Westover KD, Wu H, Foster I, Fraser JS, Maia FR, Gonen T, Kirchhausen T, Diederichs K, Crosas M, Sliz P
    Nature Communications. 2016 Mar 07;7:10882. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10882

    Access to experimental X-ray diffraction image data is fundamental for validation and reproduction of macromolecular models and indispensable for development of structural biology processing methods. Here, we established a diffraction data publication and dissemination system, Structural Biology Data Grid (SBDG;, to preserve primary experimental data sets that support scientific publications. Data sets are accessible to researchers through a community driven data grid, which facilitates global data access. Our analysis of a pilot collection of crystallographic data sets demonstrates that the information archived by SBDG is sufficient to reprocess data to statistics that meet or exceed the quality of the original published structures. SBDG has extended its services to the entire community and is used to develop support for other types of biomedical data sets. It is anticipated that access to the experimental data sets will enhance the paradigm shift in the community towards a much more dynamic body of continuously improving data analysis.

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    Eddy/Rivas Lab
    03/07/16 | Epigenomic landscapes of retinal rods and cones.
    Mo A, Luo C, Davis FP, Mukamel EA, Henry GL, Nery JR, Urich MA, Picard S, Lister R, Eddy SR, Beer MA, Ecker JR, Nathans J
    eLife. 2016 Mar 07;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.11613

    Rod and cone photoreceptors are highly similar in many respects but they have important functional and molecular differences. Here, we investigate genome-wide patterns of DNA methylation and chromatin accessibility in mouse rods and cones and correlate differences in these features with gene expression, histone marks, transcription factor binding, and DNA sequence motifs. Loss of NR2E3 in rods shifts their epigenomes to a more cone-like state. The data further reveal wide differences in DNA methylation between retinal photoreceptors and brain neurons. Surprisingly, we also find a substantial fraction of DNA hypo-methylated regions in adult rods that are not in active chromatin. Many of these regions exhibit hallmarks of regulatory regions that were active earlier in neuronal development, suggesting that these regions could remain undermethylated due to the highly compact chromatin in mature rods. This work defines the epigenomic landscapes of rods and cones, revealing features relevant to photoreceptor development and function.

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    03/07/16 | High-density three-dimensional localization microscopy across large volumes.
    Legant WR, Shao L, Grimm JB, Brown TA, Milkie DE, Avants BB, Lavis LD, Betzig E
    Nature Methods. 2016 Mar 7:. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3797

    Extending three-dimensional (3D) single-molecule localization microscopy away from the coverslip and into thicker specimens will greatly broaden its biological utility. However, because of the limitations of both conventional imaging modalities and conventional labeling techniques, it is a challenge to localize molecules in three dimensions with high precision in such samples while simultaneously achieving the labeling densities required for high resolution of densely crowded structures. Here we combined lattice light-sheet microscopy with newly developed, freely diffusing, cell-permeable chemical probes with targeted affinity for DNA, intracellular membranes or the plasma membrane. We used this combination to perform high-localization precision, ultrahigh-labeling density, multicolor localization microscopy in samples up to 20 μm thick, including dividing cells and the neuromast organ of a zebrafish embryo. We also demonstrate super-resolution correlative imaging with protein-specific photoactivable fluorophores, providing a mutually compatible, single-platform alternative to correlative light-electron microscopy over large volumes.

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