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209 Publications

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    02/02/16 | Tagmentation-based mapping (tagmap) of mobile DNA genomic insertion sites.
    bioRxiv. 2016 Feb 2:. doi: 10.1101/037762

    Multiple methods have been introduced over the past 30 years to identify the genomic insertion sites of transposable elements and other DNA elements that integrate into genomes. However, each of these methods suffer from limitations that can frustrate attempts to map multiple insertions in a single genome and to map insertions in genomes of high complexity that contain extensive repetitive DNA. I introduce a new method for transposon mapping that is simple to perform, can accurately map multiple insertions per genome, and generates long sequence reads that facilitate mapping to complex genomes. The method, called TagMap, for Tagmentation-based Mapping, relies on a modified Tn5 tagmentation protocol with a single tagmentation adaptor followed by PCR using primers specific to the tranposable element and the adaptor sequence. Several minor modifications to normal tagmentation reagents and protocols allow easy and rapid preparation of TagMap libraries. Short read sequencing starting from the adaptor sequence generates oriented reads that flank and are oriented toward the transposable element insertion site. The convergent orientation of adjacent reads at the insertion site allows straightforward prediction of the precise insertion site(s). A Linux shell script is provided to identify insertion sites from fastq files.

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    Kainmueller Lab
    02/01/16 | Automated detection and quantification of single RNAs at cellular resolution in zebrafish embryos.
    Stapel LC, Lombardot B, Broaddus C, Kainmueller D, Jug F, Myers EW, Vastenhouw NL
    Development (Cambridge, England). 2016 Feb 01;143(3):540-6. doi: 10.1242/dev.128918

    Analysis of differential gene expression is crucial for the study of cell fate and behavior during embryonic development. However, automated methods for the sensitive detection and quantification of RNAs at cellular resolution in embryos are lacking. With the advent of single-molecule fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH), gene expression can be analyzed at single-molecule resolution. However, the limited availability of protocols for smFISH in embryos and the lack of efficient image analysis pipelines have hampered quantification at the (sub)cellular level in complex samples such as tissues and embryos. Here, we present a protocol for smFISH on zebrafish embryo sections in combination with an image analysis pipeline for automated transcript detection and cell segmentation. We use this strategy to quantify gene expression differences between different cell types and identify differences in subcellular transcript localization between genes. The combination of our smFISH protocol and custom-made, freely available, analysis pipeline will enable researchers to fully exploit the benefits of quantitative transcript analysis at cellular and subcellular resolution in tissues and embryos.

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    Ji Lab
    02/01/16 | Thalamus provides layer 4 of primary visual cortex with orientation- and direction-tuned inputs.
    Sun W, Tan Z, Mensh BD, Ji N
    Nature Neuroscience. 2016 Feb;19(2):308-15. doi: 10.1038/nn.4196

    Understanding the functions of a brain region requires knowing the neural representations of its myriad inputs, local neurons and outputs. Primary visual cortex (V1) has long been thought to compute visual orientation from untuned thalamic inputs, but very few thalamic inputs have been measured in any mammal. We determined the response properties of ~28,000 thalamic boutons and ~4,000 cortical neurons in layers 1–5 of awake mouse V1. Using adaptive optics that allows accurate measurement of bouton activity deep in cortex, we found that around half of the boutons in the main thalamorecipient L4 carried orientation-tuned information and that their orientation and direction biases were also dominant in the L4 neuron population, suggesting that these neurons may inherit their selectivity from tuned thalamic inputs. Cortical neurons in all layers exhibited sharper tuning than thalamic boutons and a greater diversity of preferred orientations. Our results provide data-rich constraints for refining mechanistic models of cortical computation.

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    02/01/16 | Transcriptomes of lineage-specific Drosophila neuroblasts profiled by genetic targeting and robotic sorting.
    Yang C, Fu C, Sugino K, Liu Z, Ren Q, Liu L, Yao X, Lee LP, Lee T
    Development (Cambridge, England). 2016 Feb 1;143(3):411-21. doi: 10.1242/dev.129163

    A brain consists of numerous distinct neurons arising from a limited number of progenitors, called neuroblasts in Drosophila. Each neuroblast produces a specific neuronal lineage. To unravel the transcriptional networks that underlie the development of distinct neuroblast lineages, we marked and isolated lineage-specific neuroblasts for RNA sequencing. We labeled particular neuroblasts throughout neurogenesis by activating a conditional neuroblast driver in specific lineages using various intersection strategies. The targeted neuroblasts were efficiently recovered using a custom-built device for robotic single-cell picking. Transcriptome analysis of mushroom body, antennal lobe and type II neuroblasts compared with non-selective neuroblasts, neurons and glia revealed a rich repertoire of transcription factors expressed among neuroblasts in diverse patterns. Besides transcription factors that are likely to be pan-neuroblast, many transcription factors exist that are selectively enriched or repressed in certain neuroblasts. The unique combinations of transcription factors present in different neuroblasts may govern the diverse lineage-specific neuron fates.

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    01/28/16 | Studying small brains to understand the building blocks of cognition.
    Haberkern H, Jayaraman V
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2016 Jan 28;37:59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.01.007

    Cognition encompasses a range of higher-order mental processes, such as attention, working memory, and model-based decision-making. These processes are thought to involve the dynamic interaction of multiple central brain regions. A mechanistic understanding of such computations requires not only monitoring and manipulating specific neural populations during behavior, but also knowing the connectivity of the underlying circuitry. These goals are experimentally challenging in mammals, but are feasible in numerically simpler insect brains. In Drosophila melanogaster in particular, genetic tools enable precisely targeted physiology and optogenetics in actively behaving animals. In this article we discuss how these advantages are increasingly being leveraged to study abstract neural representations and sensorimotor computations that may be relevant for cognition in both insects and mammals.

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    01/28/16 | Visualization and quantification for interactive analysis of neural connectivity in Drosophila.
    Swoboda N, Moosburner J, Bruckner S, Yu J, Dickson BJ, Bühler K
    Computer Graphics Forum. 2016 Jan 28:. doi: 10.1111/cgf.12792

    Neurobiologists investigate the brain of the common fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to discover neural circuits and link them to complex behaviour. Formulating new hypotheses about connectivity requires potential connectivity information between individual neurons, indicated by overlaps of arborizations of two or more neurons. As the number of higher order overlaps (i.e. overlaps of three or more arborizations) increases exponentially with the number of neurons under investigation, visualization is impeded by clutter and quantification becomes a burden. Existing solutions are restricted to visual or quantitative analysis of pairwise overlaps, as they rely on precomputed overlap data. We present a novel tool that complements existing methods for potential connectivity exploration by providing for the first time the possibility to compute and visualize higher order arborization overlaps on the fly and to interactively explore this information in both its spatial anatomical context and on a quantitative level. Qualitative evaluation by neuroscientists and non-experts demonstrated the utility and usability of the tool.

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    01/25/16 | Real-time three-dimensional cell segmentation in large-scale microscopy data of developing embryos.
    Stegmaier J, Amat F, Lemon WC, McDole K, Wan Y, Teodoro G, Mikut R, Keller PJ
    Developmental Cell. 2016 Jan 25;36(2):225-40. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.12.028

    We present the Real-time Accurate Cell-shape Extractor (RACE), a high-throughput image analysis framework for automated three-dimensional cell segmentation in large-scale images. RACE is 55–330 times faster and 2–5 times more accurate than state-of-the-art methods. We demonstrate the generality of RACE by extracting cell-shape information from entire Drosophila, zebrafish, and mouse embryos imaged with confocal and light-sheet microscopes. Using RACE, we automatically reconstructed cellular-resolution tissue anisotropy maps across developing Drosophila embryos and quantified differences in cell-shape dynamics in wild-type and mutant embryos. We furthermore integrated RACE with our framework for automated cell lineaging and performed joint segmentation and cell tracking in entire Drosophila embryos. RACE processed these terabyte-sized datasets on a single computer within 1.4 days. RACE is easy to use, as it requires adjustment of only three parameters, takes full advantage of state-of-the-art multi-core processors and graphics cards, and is available as open-source software for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.

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    01/20/16 | A platform for brain-wide imaging and reconstruction of individual neurons.
    Economo MN, Clack NG, Lavis LD, Gerfen CR, Svoboda K, Myers EW, Chandrashekar J
    eLife. 2016 Jan 20;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10566

    The structure of axonal arbors controls how signals from individual neurons are routed within the mammalian brain. However, the arbors of very few long-range projection neurons have been reconstructed in their entirety, as axons with diameters as small as 100 nm arborize in target regions dispersed over many millimeters of tissue. We introduce a platform for high-resolution, three-dimensional fluorescence imaging of complete tissue volumes that enables the visualization and reconstruction of long-range axonal arbors. This platform relies on a high-speed two-photon microscope integrated with a tissue vibratome and a suite of computational tools for large-scale image data. We demonstrate the power of this approach by reconstructing the axonal arbors of multiple neurons in the motor cortex across a single mouse brain.

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    01/20/16 | Simultaneous denoising, deconvolution, and demixing of calcium imaging data.
    Pnevmatikakis EA, Soudry D, Gao Y, Machado TA, Merel J, Pfau D, Reardon T, Mu Y, Lacefield C, Yang W, Ahrens M, Bruno R, Jessell TM, Peterka DS, Yuste R, Paninski L
    Neuron. 2016 Jan 20;89(2):285-99. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.11.037

    We present a modular approach for analyzing calcium imaging recordings of large neuronal ensembles. Our goal is to simultaneously identify the locations of the neurons, demix spatially overlapping components, and denoise and deconvolve the spiking activity from the slow dynamics of the calcium indicator. Our approach relies on a constrained nonnegative matrix factorization that expresses the spatiotemporal fluorescence activity as the product of a spatial matrix that encodes the spatial footprint of each neuron in the optical field and a temporal matrix that characterizes the calcium concentration of each neuron over time. This framework is combined with a novel constrained deconvolution approach that extracts estimates of neural activity from fluorescence traces, to create a spatiotemporal processing algorithm that requires minimal parameter tuning. We demonstrate the general applicability of our method by applying it to in vitro and in vivo multi-neuronal imaging data, whole-brain light-sheet imaging data, and dendritic imaging data.

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    01/13/16 | Spatial gene-expression gradients underlie prominent heterogeneity of CA1 pyramidal neurons.
    Cembrowski MS, Bachman JL, Wang L, Sugino K, Shields BC, Spruston N
    Neuron. 2016 Jan 13:. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.013

    Tissue and organ function has been conventionally understood in terms of the interactions among discrete and homogeneous cell types. This approach has proven difficult in neuroscience due to the marked diversity across different neuron classes, but it may be further hampered by prominent within-class variability. Here, we considered a well-defined canonical neuronal population-hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells (CA1 PCs)-and systematically examined the extent and spatial rules of transcriptional heterogeneity. Using next-generation RNA sequencing, we identified striking variability in CA1 PCs, such that the differences within CA1 along the dorsal-ventral axis rivaled differences across distinct pyramidal neuron classes. This variability emerged from a spectrum of continuous gene-expression gradients, producing a transcriptional profile consistent with a multifarious continuum of cells. This work reveals an unexpected amount of variability within a canonical and narrowly defined neuronal population and suggests that continuous, within-class heterogeneity may be an important feature of neural circuits.

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