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202 Publications

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    02/01/22 | Organization of translating secretome mRNAS on endoplasmic reticulum
    Choi H, Liao Y, Yoon YJ, Grimm J, Lavis LD, Singer RH, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Biophysical Journal. 2022 Feb 01;121(3):33a. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2021.11.2550

    The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) has a complex morphology comprised of stacked sheets, tubules, and three-way junctions, which together function as a platform for protein synthesis of membrane and secretory proteins. Specific ER subdomains are thought to be spatially organized to enable protein synthesis activity, but precisely where these domains are localized is unclear, especially relative to the plethora of organelle interactions taking place on the ER. Here, we use single-molecule tracking of ribosomes and mRNA in combination with simultaneous imaging of ER to assess the sites of membrane protein synthesis on the ER. We found that ribosomes were widely distributed throughout different ER morphologies, but the synthesis of membrane proteins (including Type I, II, and multi-spanning) and an ER luminal protein (Calreticulin) occurred primarily at three-way junctions. Lunapark played a key role in stabilizing transmembrane protein mRNA at three-way junctions. We additionally found that translating mRNAs coding for transmembrane proteins are in the vicinity of lysosomes and translate through a cap-independent but eIF2-dependent mechanism. These results support the idea that discrete ER subdomains co-exist with lysosomes to support specific types of protein synthesis activities, with ER-lysosome interactions playing an important role in the translation of secretome mRNAs.

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    Perhaps the most valuable single set of resources for genetic studies of Drosophila melanogaster is the collection of multiply-inverted chromosomes commonly known as balancer chromosomes. Balancers prevent the recovery of recombination exchange products within genomic regions included in inversions and allow perpetual maintenance of deleterious alleles in living stocks and the execution of complex genetic crosses. Balancer chromosomes have been generated traditionally by exposing animals to ionizing radiation and screening for altered chromosome structure or for unusual marker segregation patterns. These approaches are tedious and unpredictable, and have failed to produce the desired products in some species. Here I describe transgenic tools that allow targeted chromosome rearrangements in Drosophila species. The key new resources are engineered reporter genes containing introns with yeast recombination sites and enhancers that drive fluorescent reporter genes in multiple body regions. These tools were used to generate a doubly-inverted chromosome 3R in D. simulans that serves as an effective balancer chromosome.

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    02/09/22 | Ascending neurons convey behavioral state to integrative sensory and action selection centers in the brain
    Chin-Lin Chen , Florian Aymanns , Ryo Minegishi , Victor D. V. Matsuda , Nicolas Talabot , Semih Günel , Barry J. Dickson , Pavan Ramdya
    bioRxiv. 2022 Feb 09:. doi: 10.1101/2022.02.09.479566

    Knowledge of one’s own behavioral state—whether one is walking, grooming, or resting—is critical for contextualizing sensory cues including interpreting visual motion and tracking odor sources. Additionally, awareness of one’s own posture is important to avoid initiating destabilizing or physically impossible actions. Ascending neurons (ANs), interneurons in the vertebrate spinal cord or insect ventral nerve cord (VNC) that project to the brain, may provide such high-fidelity behavioral state signals. However, little is known about what ANs encode and where they convey signals in any brain. To address this gap, we performed a large-scale functional screen of AN movement encoding, brain targeting, and motor system patterning in the adult fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Using a new library of AN sparse driver lines, we measured the functional properties of 247 genetically-identifiable ANs by performing two-photon microscopy recordings of neural activity in tethered, behaving flies. Quantitative, deep network-based neural and behavioral analyses revealed that ANs nearly exclusively encode high-level behaviors—primarily walking as well as resting and grooming—rather than low-level joint or limb movements. ANs that convey self-motion—resting, walking, and responses to gust-like puff stimuli—project to the brain’s anterior ventrolateral protocerebrum (AVLP), a multimodal, integrative sensory hub, while those that encode discrete actions—eye grooming, turning, and proboscis extension—project to the brain’s gnathal ganglion (GNG), a locus for action selection. The structure and polarity of AN projections within the VNC are predictive of their functional encoding and imply that ANs participate in motor computations while also relaying state signals to the brain. Illustrative of this are ANs that temporally integrate proboscis extensions over tens-of-seconds, likely through recurrent interconnectivity. Thus, in line with long-held theoretical predictions, ascending populations convey high-level behavioral state signals almost exclusively to brain regions implicated in sensory feature contextualization and action selection.

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    02/08/22 | Single-cell transcriptomes of developing and adult olfactory receptor neurons in Drosophila
    McLaughlin CN, Brbić M, Xie Q, Li T, Horns F, Kolluru SS, Kebschull JM, Vacek D, Xie A, Li J, Jones RC, Leskovec J, Quake SR, Luo L, Li H
    Elife. 02/2021;10:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63856

    Recognition of environmental cues is essential for the survival of all organisms. Transcriptional changes occur to enable the generation and function of the neural circuits underlying sensory perception. To gain insight into these changes, we generated single-cell transcriptomes of olfactory- (ORNs), thermo-, and hygro-sensory neurons at an early developmental and adult stage using single-cell and single-nucleus RNA sequencing. We discovered that ORNs maintain expression of the same olfactory receptors across development. Using receptor expression and computational approaches, we matched transcriptomic clusters corresponding to anatomically and physiologically defined neuron types across multiple developmental stages. We found that cell-type-specific transcriptomes partly reflected axon trajectory choices in development and sensory modality in adults. We uncovered stage-specific genes that could regulate the wiring and sensory responses of distinct ORN types. Collectively, our data reveal transcriptomic features of sensory neuron biology and provide a resource for future studies of their development and physiology.

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    02/07/22 | The complexin C-terminal amphipathic helix stabilizes the fusion pore open state by sculpting membranes.
    Courtney KC, Wu L, Mandal T, Swift M, Zhang Z, Alaghemandi M, Wu Z, Bradberry MM, Deo C, Lavis LD, Volkmann N, Hanein D, Cui Q, Bao H, Chapman ER
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2022 Feb 07;29(2):97-107. doi: 10.1038/s41594-021-00716-0

    Neurotransmitter release is mediated by proteins that drive synaptic vesicle fusion with the presynaptic plasma membrane. While soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) form the core of the fusion apparatus, additional proteins play key roles in the fusion pathway. Here, we report that the C-terminal amphipathic helix of the mammalian accessory protein, complexin (Cpx), exerts profound effects on membranes, including the formation of pores and the efficient budding and fission of vesicles. Using nanodisc-black lipid membrane electrophysiology, we demonstrate that the membrane remodeling activity of Cpx modulates the structure and stability of recombinant exocytic fusion pores. Cpx had particularly strong effects on pores formed by small numbers of SNAREs. Under these conditions, Cpx increased the current through individual pores 3.5-fold, and increased the open time fraction from roughly 0.1 to 1.0. We propose that the membrane sculpting activity of Cpx contributes to the phospholipid rearrangements that underlie fusion by stabilizing highly curved membrane fusion intermediates.

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    02/01/22 | A neural circuit linking learning and sleep in Drosophila long-term memory.
    Lei Z, Henderson K, Keleman K
    Nature Communications. 2022 Feb 01;13(1):609. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28256-1

    Animals retain some but not all experiences in long-term memory (LTM). Sleep supports LTM retention across animal species. It is well established that learning experiences enhance post-learning sleep. However, the underlying mechanisms of how learning mediates sleep for memory retention are not clear. Drosophila males display increased amounts of sleep after courtship learning. Courtship learning depends on Mushroom Body (MB) neurons, and post-learning sleep is mediated by the sleep-promoting ventral Fan-Shaped Body neurons (vFBs). We show that post-learning sleep is regulated by two opposing output neurons (MBONs) from the MB, which encode a measure of learning. Excitatory MBONs-γ2α'1 becomes increasingly active upon increasing time of learning, whereas inhibitory MBONs-β'2mp is activated only by a short learning experience. These MB outputs are integrated by SFS neurons, which excite vFBs to promote sleep after prolonged but not short training. This circuit may ensure that only longer or more intense learning experiences induce sleep and are thereby consolidated into LTM.

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    02/01/22 | Caveat fluorophore: an insiders' guide to small-molecule fluorescent labels.
    Grimm JB, Lavis LD
    Nature Methods. 2022 Feb 01;19(2):149-58. doi: 10.1038/s41592-021-01338-6

    The last three decades have brought a revolution in fluorescence microscopy. The development of new microscopes, fluorescent labels and analysis techniques has pushed the frontiers of biological imaging forward, moving from fixed to live cells, from diffraction-limited to super-resolution imaging and from simple cell culture systems to experiments in vivo. The large and ever-evolving collection of tools can be daunting for biologists, who must invest substantial time and effort in adopting new technologies to answer their specific questions. This is particularly relevant when working with small-molecule fluorescent labels, where users must navigate the jargon, idiosyncrasies and caveats of chemistry. Here, we present an overview of chemical dyes used in biology and provide frank advice from a chemist's perspective.

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    02/01/22 | Idiosyncratic learning performance in flies.
    Smith MA, Honegger KS, Turner G, de Bivort B
    Biology Letters. 2022 Feb 01;18(2):20210424. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2021.0424

    Individuals vary in their innate behaviours, even when they have the same genome and have been reared in the same environment. The extent of individuality in plastic behaviours, like learning, is less well characterized. Also unknown is the extent to which intragenotypic differences in learning generalize: if an individual performs well in one assay, will it perform well in other assays? We investigated this using the fruit fly , an organism long-used to study the mechanistic basis of learning and memory. We found that isogenic flies, reared in identical laboratory conditions, and subject to classical conditioning that associated odorants with electric shock, exhibit clear individuality in their learning responses. Flies that performed well when an odour was paired with shock tended to perform well when the odour was paired with bitter taste or when other odours were paired with shock. Thus, individuality in learning performance appears to be prominent in isogenic animals reared identically, and individual differences in learning performance generalize across some aversive sensory modalities. Establishing these results in flies opens up the possibility of studying the genetic and neural circuit basis of individual differences in learning in a highly suitable model organism.

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    Looger Lab
    02/01/22 | Many sequence-diverse domains switch between alpha-helix and beta-sheet folds
    Porter LL, Kim A, Looger L, Majumdar AK, Starich M
    Biophysical Journal. 2022 Feb 01;121(3):156a. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2021.11.1945

    The protein folding paradigm asserts that the three-dimensional structure of a protein is determined by its amino acid sequence. Here we show that a substantial population of proteins from the NusG superfamily of transcription factors do not adhere to this paradigm. Previous work demonstrated that one member of this superfamily has a regulatory domain that completely switches between α-helical and β-sheet folds, but the pervasiveness of this fold-switching mechanism is uncertain. To address this question, we developed a sequence-based predictor, which revealed that thousands of proteins from this superfamily switch folds. Circular dichroism and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies of 10 sequence-diverse variants confirmed our predictions. By contrast, state-of-the-art methods based on the protein folding paradigm assume that related sequences adopt the same fold and thus predicted that the regulatory domains of all variants adopt only the β-sheet fold. Removal of this bias revealed that residue-residue contacts from both α-helical and β-sheet folds are conserved in a large subpopulation of fold-switching domains, poising them to assume disparate conformations. Our results suggest that fold switching is a pervasive mechanism of transcriptional regulation in all kingdoms of life and indicate that expanding the protein folding paradigm may reveal the involvement of fold-switching proteins in diverse biological processes.

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    02/01/22 | Molecular cartography: charting the sea of molecular organization in live synapses with nanoscale precision
    Nelson AJ, Zheng Q, Lavis LD, Ryan TA
    Biophysical Journal. 2022 Feb 01;121(3):302a. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2021.11.1246

    Understanding live-cell behavior in part requires high precision mapping of molecular species in 3-D dynamic environments. Approaches like single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) offer high promise for challenges posed by molecular cartography. Effectively, the precision of these approaches is dependent on the how many photons / second a fluorescent marker is capable of emitting. For this reason, many SRLM experiments are typically done using fluorescent organic dyes (such as Alexa Fluors) in reducing chemical environments which cause some organic dyes to stochastically cycle through dark states, allowing single-molecule localization (e.g. (d)STORM). The need to couple these dyes to antibodies and the harsh reducing conditions makes their application to live cell work problematic. To overcome these limitations, we made use of modifications to Janelia Fluor-based dyes which make them spontaneously cycle through dark states (blink) under physiological imaging conditions. The dyes are spectrally compatible with photo-activatable fluorescent proteins such as mEos and allow for simultaneous 2-color superresolution microscopy. When conjugated to a HaloTag, these artificial dyes can bind genetically encodable targets in live samples, allowing subsequent measurement in a live-cell environment. To correct for nanoscale chromatic aberrations we developed a new machine-learning based approach with reconstruction errors below achievable localization precisions. We show that these methods allow the reconstruction of live synapse surfaces and a variety of the associated molecular machineries with up to 50 nm accuracy in 3 dimensions.

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