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209 Publications

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    Looger Lab
    09/20/16 | Molecularly Defined Subplate Neurons Project Both to Thalamocortical Recipient Layers and Thalamus.
    Viswanathan S, Sheikh A, Looger LL, Kanold PO
    Cerebral Cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). 2016 Sep 20;27(10):4759-68. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw271

    In mammals, subplate neurons (SPNs) are among the first generated cortical neurons. While most SPNs exist only transiently during development, a number of SPNs persist among adult Layer 6b (L6b). During development, SPNs receive thalamic and intra-cortical input, and primarily project to Layer 4 (L4). SPNs are critical for the anatomical and functional development of thalamocortical connections and also pioneer corticothalamic projections. Since SPNs are heterogeneous, SPN subpopulations might serve different roles. Here, we investigate the connectivity of one subpopulation, complexin-3 (Cplx3)-positive SPNs (Cplx3-SPNs), in mouse whisker somatosensory (barrel) cortex (S1). We find that many Cplx3-SPNs survive into adulthood and become a subpopulation of L6b. Cplx3-SPNs axons project to thalamorecipient layers, that is, L4, 5a, and 1. The L4 projections are biased towards the septal regions between barrels in the second postnatal week. Thus, S1 Cplx3-SPN targets co-localize with the eventual projections of the medial posterior thalamic nucleus (POm). In addition to their cortical targets, Cplx3-SPNs also extend long-range axons to several thalamic nuclei, including POm. Thus, Cplx3-SPN/L6b neurons are associated with paralemniscal pathways and can potentially directly link thalamocortical and corticothalamic circuits. This suggests an additional key role for SPNs in the establishment and maintenance of thalamocortical processing.

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    Kainmueller Lab
    09/19/16 | Mapping auto-context decision forests to deep ConvNets for semantic segmentation.
    Richmond DL, Kainmueller D, Yang MY, Myers EW, Rother C
    British Machine Vision Conference. 2016 Sep 19:

    In this paper, we propose a mapping from the Auto-context model to a deep Convolutional Neural Network (ConvNet), bridging the gap be- tween these two models, and helping address the challenge of training ConvNets with limited training data. 

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    09/15/16 | Rapid dynamics of general transcription factor TFIIB binding during preinitiation complex assembly revealed by single-molecule analysis.
    Zhang Z, English BP, Grimm JB, Kazane SA, Hu W, Tsai A, Inouye C, You C, Piehler J, Schultz PG, Lavis LD, Revyakin A, Tjian R
    Genes and Development. 2016 Sep 15;30:2106-18. doi: 10.1101/gad.285395.116

    Transcription of protein-encoding genes in eukaryotic cells requires the coordinated action of multiple general transcription factors (GTFs) and RNA polymerase II (Pol II). A “step-wise” preinitiation complex (PIC) assembly model has been suggested based on conventional ensemble biochemical measurements, in which protein factors bind stably to the promoter DNA sequentially to build a functional PIC. However, recent dynamic measurements in live cells suggest that transcription factors mostly interact with chromatin DNA rather transiently. To gain a clearer dynamic picture of PIC assembly, we established an integrated in vitro single-molecule transcription platform reconstituted from highly purified human transcription factors and complemented it by live-cell imaging. Here we performed real-time measurements of the hierarchal promoter-specific binding of TFIID, TFIIA, and TFIIB. Surprisingly, we found that while promoter binding of TFIID and TFIIA is stable, promoter binding by TFIIB is highly transient and dynamic (with an average residence time of 1.5 sec). Stable TFIIB–promoter association and progression beyond this apparent PIC assembly checkpoint control occurs only in the presence of Pol II–TFIIF. This transient-to-stable transition of TFIIB-binding dynamics has gone undetected previously and underscores the advantages of single-molecule assays for revealing the dynamic nature of complex biological reactions.

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    Lavis LabSinger Lab
    09/13/16 | Glutamate-induced RNA localization and translation in neurons.
    Yoon YJ, Wu B, Buxbaum AR, Das S, Tsai A, English BP, Grimm JB, Lavis LD, Singer RH
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2016 Sep 13:. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1614267113

    Localization of mRNA is required for protein synthesis to occur within discrete intracellular compartments. Neurons represent an ideal system for studying the precision of mRNA trafficking because of their polarized structure and the need for synapse-specific targeting. To investigate this targeting, we derived a quantitative and analytical approach. Dendritic spines were stimulated by glutamate uncaging at a diffraction-limited spot, and the localization of single β-actin mRNAs was measured in space and time. Localization required NMDA receptor activity, a dynamic actin cytoskeleton, and the transacting RNA-binding protein, Zipcode-binding protein 1 (ZBP1). The ability of the mRNA to direct newly synthesized proteins to the site of localization was evaluated using a Halo-actin reporter so that RNA and protein were detected simultaneously. Newly synthesized Halo-actin was enriched at the site of stimulation, required NMDA receptor activity, and localized preferentially at the periphery of spines. This work demonstrates that synaptic activity can induce mRNA localization and local translation of β-actin where the new actin participates in stabilizing the expanding synapse in dendritic spines.

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    09/08/16 | Behavioural integration of auditory and antennal stimulation during phonotaxis in the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus (DeGeer).
    Haberkern H, Hedwig B
    The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2016 Sep 8;219(Pt 22):3575-86. doi: 10.1242/jeb.141606

    Animals need to flexibly respond to stimuli from their environment without compromising behavioural consistency. For example, female crickets orienting toward a conspecific male's calling song in search of a mating partner need to stay responsive to other signals that provide information about obstacles and predators. Here, we investigate how spontaneously walking crickets and crickets engaging in acoustically guided goal-directed navigation, i.e. phonotaxis, respond to mechanosensory stimuli detected by their long antennae. We monitored walking behaviour of female crickets on a trackball during lateral antennal stimulation, which was achieved by moving a wire mesh transiently into reach of one antenna. During antennal stimulation alone, females reduced their walking speed, oriented toward the object and actively explored it with antennal movements. Additionally, some crickets initially turned away from the approaching object. Females responded in a similar way when the antennal stimulus was presented during ongoing phonotaxis: forward velocity was reduced and phonotactic steering was suppressed while the females turned toward and explored the object. Further, rapid steering bouts to individual chirps, typical for female phonotaxis, no longer occurred.Our data reveals that in this experimental situation antennal stimulation overrides phonotaxis for extended time periods. Phonotaxis in natural environments, which require the integration of multiple sensory cues, may therefore be more variable than phonotaxis measured under ideal laboratory conditions. Combining this new behavioural paradigm with neurophysiological methods will show where the sensory-motor integration of antennal and acoustic stimulation occurs and how this is achieved on a mechanistic level.

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    09/08/16 | Cell class-lineage analysis reveals sexually dimorphic lineage compositions in the Drosophila brain.
    Ren Q, Awasaki T, Huang Y, Liu Z, Lee T
    Current Biology : CB. 2016 Sep 08;26(19):2583-93. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.086

    The morphology and physiology of neurons are directed by developmental decisions made within their lines of descent from single stem cells. Distinct stem cells may produce neurons having shared properties that define their cell class, such as the type of secreted neurotransmitter. The relationship between cell class and lineage is complex. Here we developed the transgenic cell class-lineage intersection (CLIn) system to assign cells of a particular class to specific lineages within the Drosophila brain. CLIn also enables birth-order analysis and genetic manipulation of particular cell classes arising from particular lineages. We demonstrated the power of CLIn in the context of the eight central brain type II lineages, which produce highly diverse progeny through intermediate neural progenitors. We mapped 18 dopaminergic neurons from three distinct clusters to six type II lineages that show lineage-characteristic neurite trajectories. In addition, morphologically distinct dopaminergic neurons are produced within a given lineage, and they arise in an invariant sequence. We also identified type II lineages that produce doublesex- and fruitless-expressing neurons and examined whether female-specific apoptosis in these lineages accounts for the lower number of these neurons in the female brain. Blocking apoptosis in these lineages resulted in more cells in both sexes with males still carrying more cells than females. This argues that sex-specific stem cell fate together with differential progeny apoptosis contribute to the final sexual dimorphism.

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    Murphy Lab
    08/31/16 | Active dendritic properties and local inhibitory input enable selectivity for object motion in mouse superior colliculus neurons.
    Gale SD, Murphy GJ
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2016 Aug 31;36(35):9111-23. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0645-16.2016

    UNLABELLED: Neurons respond to specific features of sensory stimuli. In the visual system, for example, some neurons respond to motion of small but not large objects, whereas other neurons prefer motion of the entire visual field. Separate neurons respond equally to local and global motion but selectively to additional features of visual stimuli. How and where does response selectivity emerge? Here, we show that wide-field (WF) cells in retino-recipient layers of the mouse superior colliculus (SC) respond selectively to small moving objects. Moreover, we identify two mechanisms that contribute to this selectivity. First, we show that input restricted to a small portion of the broad dendritic arbor of WF cells is sufficient to trigger dendritic spikes that reliably propagate to the soma/axon. In vivo whole-cell recordings reveal that nearly every action potential evoked by visual stimuli has characteristics of spikes initiated in dendrites. Second, inhibitory input from a different class of SC neuron, horizontal cells, constrains the range of stimuli to which WF cells respond. Horizontal cells respond preferentially to the sudden appearance or rapid movement of large stimuli. Optogenetic reduction of their activity reduces movement selectivity and broadens size tuning in WF cells by increasing the relative strength of responses to stimuli that appear suddenly or cover a large region of space. Therefore, strongly propagating dendritic spikes enable small stimuli to drive spike output in WF cells and local inhibition helps restrict responses to stimuli that are both small and moving.

    SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: How do neurons respond selectively to some sensory stimuli but not others? In the visual system, a particularly relevant stimulus feature is object motion, which often reveals other animals. Here, we show how specific cells in the superior colliculus, one synapse downstream of the retina, respond selectively to object motion. These wide-field (WF) cells respond strongly to small objects that move slowly anywhere through a large region of space, but not to stationary objects or full-field motion. Action potential initiation in dendrites enables small stimuli to trigger visual responses and inhibitory input from cells that prefer large, suddenly appearing, or quickly moving stimuli restricts responses of WF cells to objects that are small and moving.

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    Freeman Lab
    08/26/16 | Improving data quality in neuronal population recordings.
    Harris KD, Quiroga RQ, Freeman J, Smith SL
    Nature Neuroscience. 2016 Aug 26;19(9):1165-74. doi: 10.1038/nn.4365

    Understanding how the brain operates requires understanding how large sets of neurons function together. Modern recording technology makes it possible to simultaneously record the activity of hundreds of neurons, and technological developments will soon allow recording of thousands or tens of thousands. As with all experimental techniques, these methods are subject to confounds that complicate the interpretation of such recordings, and could lead to erroneous scientific conclusions. Here we discuss methods for assessing and improving the quality of data from these techniques and outline likely future directions in this field.

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    08/26/16 | Motion quantification during multi-photon functional imaging in behaving animals.
    Kong L, Little JP, Cui M
    Biomedical Optics Express. 2016 Sep 1;7(9):3686-3695. doi: 10.1364/BOE.7.003686

    Functional imaging in behaving animals is essential to understanding brain function. However, artifacts resulting from animal motion, including locomotion, can severely corrupt functional measurements. To dampen tissue motion, we designed a new optical window with minimal optical aberrations. Using the newly developed high-speed continuous volumetric imaging system based on an optical phase-locked ultrasound lens, we quantified motion of the cerebral cortex and hippocampal surface during two-photon functional imaging in behaving mice. We find that the out-of-plane motion is generally greater than the axial dimension of the point-spread-function during mouse locomotion, which indicates that high-speed continuous volumetric imaging is necessary to minimize motion artifacts.

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    Ji LabFreeman Lab
    08/26/16 | Technologies for imaging neural activity in large volumes.
    Ji N, Freeman J, Smith SL
    Nature Neuroscience. 2016 Aug 26;19(9):1154-64. doi: 10.1038/nn.4358

    Neural circuitry has evolved to form distributed networks that act dynamically across large volumes. Conventional microscopy collects data from individual planes and cannot sample circuitry across large volumes at the temporal resolution relevant to neural circuit function and behaviors. Here we review emerging technologies for rapid volume imaging of neural circuitry. We focus on two critical challenges: the inertia of optical systems, which limits image speed, and aberrations, which restrict the image volume. Optical sampling time must be long enough to ensure high-fidelity measurements, but optimized sampling strategies and point-spread function engineering can facilitate rapid volume imaging of neural activity within this constraint. We also discuss new computational strategies for processing and analyzing volume imaging data of increasing size and complexity. Together, optical and computational advances are providing a broader view of neural circuit dynamics and helping elucidate how brain regions work in concert to support behavior.

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