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52 Publications

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    03/01/15 | Fixation-resistant photoactivatable fluorescent proteins for CLEM.
    Paez-Segala MG, Sun MG, Shtengel G, Viswanathan S, Baird MA, Macklin JJ, Patel R, Allen JR, Howe ES, Piszczek G, Hess HF, Davidson MW, Wang Y, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2015 Mar;12(3):215-8. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3225

    Fluorescent proteins facilitate a variety of imaging paradigms in live and fixed samples. However, they lose their fluorescence after heavy fixation, hindering applications such as correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM). Here we report engineered variants of the photoconvertible Eos fluorescent protein that fluoresce and photoconvert normally in heavily fixed (0.5-1% OsO4), plastic resin-embedded samples, enabling correlative super-resolution fluorescence imaging and high-quality electron microscopy.

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    02/13/15 | Labeling of active neural circuits in vivo with designed calcium integrators.
    Fosque BF, Sun Y, Dana H, Yang C, Ohyama T, Tadross MR, Patel R, Zlatic M, Kim DS, Ahrens MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Schreiter ER
    Science. 2015 Feb 13;347(6223):755-60. doi: 10.1126/science.1260922

    The identification of active neurons and circuits in vivo is a fundamental challenge in understanding the neural basis of behavior. Genetically encoded calcium (Ca(2+)) indicators (GECIs) enable quantitative monitoring of cellular-resolution activity during behavior. However, such indicators require online monitoring within a limited field of view. Alternatively, post hoc staining of immediate early genes (IEGs) indicates highly active cells within the entire brain, albeit with poor temporal resolution. We designed a fluorescent sensor, CaMPARI, that combines the genetic targetability and quantitative link to neural activity of GECIs with the permanent, large-scale labeling of IEGs, allowing a temporally precise "activity snapshot" of a large tissue volume. CaMPARI undergoes efficient and irreversible green-to-red conversion only when elevated intracellular Ca(2+) and experimenter-controlled illumination coincide. We demonstrate the utility of CaMPARI in freely moving larvae of zebrafish and flies, and in head-fixed mice and adult flies.

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    01/19/15 | A general method to improve fluorophores for live-cell and single-molecule microscopy.
    Grimm JB, English BP, Chen J, Slaughter JP, Zhang Z, Revyakin A, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Normanno D, Singer RH, Lionnet T, Lavis LD
    Nature Methods. 2015 Jan 19;12(3):244-50. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3256

    Specific labeling of biomolecules with bright fluorophores is the keystone of fluorescence microscopy. Genetically encoded self-labeling tag proteins can be coupled to synthetic dyes inside living cells, resulting in brighter reporters than fluorescent proteins. Intracellular labeling using these techniques requires cell-permeable fluorescent ligands, however, limiting utility to a small number of classic fluorophores. Here we describe a simple structural modification that improves the brightness and photostability of dyes while preserving spectral properties and cell permeability. Inspired by molecular modeling, we replaced the N,N-dimethylamino substituents in tetramethylrhodamine with four-membered azetidine rings. This addition of two carbon atoms doubles the quantum efficiency and improves the photon yield of the dye in applications ranging from in vitro single-molecule measurements to super-resolution imaging. The novel substitution is generalizable, yielding a palette of chemical dyes with improved quantum efficiencies that spans the UV and visible range.

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    12/01/14 | Quantum dot-based multiphoton fluorescent pipettes for targeted neuronal electrophysiology.
    Andrasfalvy BK, Galiñanes GL, Huber D, Barbic M, Macklin JJ, Susumu K, Delehanty JB, Huston AL, Makara JK, Medintz IL
    Nature Methods. 2014 Dec;11(12):1237-41. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3146

    Targeting visually identified neurons for electrophysiological recording is a fundamental neuroscience technique; however, its potential is hampered by poor visualization of pipette tips in deep brain tissue. We describe quantum dot-coated glass pipettes that provide strong two-photon contrast at deeper penetration depths than those achievable with current methods. We demonstrated the pipettes' utility in targeted patch-clamp recording experiments and single-cell electroporation of identified rat and mouse neurons in vitro and in vivo.

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    03/01/14 | Large-scale, high-density (up to 512 channels) recording of local circuits in behaving animals.
    Berenyi A, Somogyvári Z, Nagy AJ, Roux L, Long JD, Fujisawa S, Stark E, Leonardo A, Harris TD, Buzsáki G
    Journal of Neurophysiology. 2014 Mar;111(5):1132-49. doi: 10.1152/jn.00785.2013

    Monitoring representative fractions of neurons from multiple brain circuits in behaving animals is necessary for understanding neuronal computation. Here, we describe a system that allows high-channel-count recordings from a small volume of neuronal tissue using a lightweight signal multiplexing headstage that permits free behavior of small rodents. The system integrates multishank, high-density recording silicon probes, ultraflexible interconnects, and a miniaturized microdrive. These improvements allowed for simultaneous recordings of local field potentials and unit activity from hundreds of sites without confining free movements of the animal. The advantages of large-scale recordings are illustrated by determining the electroanatomic boundaries of layers and regions in the hippocampus and neocortex and constructing a circuit diagram of functional connections among neurons in real anatomic space. These methods will allow the investigation of circuit operations and behavior-dependent interregional interactions for testing hypotheses of neural networks and brain function.

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    Svoboda LabHarris LabFetter Lab
    11/12/13 | Thalamocortical input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons measured using quantitative large-scale array tomography.
    Rah J, Bas E, Colonell J, Mishchenko Y, Karsh B, Fetter RD, Myers EW, Chklovskii DB, Svoboda K, Harris TD, Isaac JT
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2013;7:177. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00177

    The subcellular locations of synapses on pyramidal neurons strongly influences dendritic integration and synaptic plasticity. Despite this, there is little quantitative data on spatial distributions of specific types of synaptic input. Here we use array tomography (AT), a high-resolution optical microscopy method, to examine thalamocortical (TC) input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons. We first verified the ability of AT to identify synapses using parallel electron microscopic analysis of TC synapses in layer 4. We then use large-scale array tomography (LSAT) to measure TC synapse distribution on L5 pyramidal neurons in a 1.00 × 0.83 × 0.21 mm(3) volume of mouse somatosensory cortex. We found that TC synapses primarily target basal dendrites in layer 5, but also make a considerable input to proximal apical dendrites in L4, consistent with previous work. Our analysis further suggests that TC inputs are biased toward certain branches and, within branches, synapses show significant clustering with an excess of TC synapse nearest neighbors within 5-15 μm compared to a random distribution. Thus, we show that AT is a sensitive and quantitative method to map specific types of synaptic input on the dendrites of entire neurons. We anticipate that this technique will be of wide utility for mapping functionally-relevant anatomical connectivity in neural circuits.

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    04/22/13 | Automated alignment of imperfect EM images for neural reconstruction.
    Scheffer LK, Karsh B, Vitaladevun S
    arXiv. 2013 Apr-22:arXiv:1304.6034 [q-bio.QM]

    The most established method of reconstructing neural circuits from animals involves slicing tissue very thin, then taking mosaics of electron microscope (EM) images. To trace neurons across different images and through different sections, these images must be accurately aligned, both with the others in the same section and to the sections above and below. Unfortunately, sectioning and imaging are not ideal processes - some of the problems that make alignment difficult include lens distortion, tissue shrinkage during imaging, tears and folds in the sectioned tissue, and dust and other artifacts. In addition the data sets are large (hundreds of thousands of images) and each image must be aligned with many neighbors, so the process must be automated and reliable. This paper discusses methods of dealing with these problems, with numeric results describing the accuracy of the resulting alignments.

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    03/04/13 | Genetically encoded calcium indicators for multi-color neural activity imaging and combination with optogenetics.
    Akerboom J, Carreras Calderón N, Tian L, Wabnig S, Prigge M, Tolö J, Gordus A, Orger MB, Severi KE, Macklin JJ, Patel R, Pulver SR, Wardill TJ, Fischer E, Schüler C, Chen T, Sarkisyan KS, Marvin JS, Bargmann CI, Kim DS, Kügler S, Lagnado L, Hegemann P, Gottschalk A, Schreiter ER, Looger LL
    Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience. 2013 Mar 4;6:2. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2013.00002

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) are powerful tools for systems neuroscience. Here we describe red, single-wavelength GECIs, "RCaMPs," engineered from circular permutation of the thermostable red fluorescent protein mRuby. High-resolution crystal structures of mRuby, the red sensor RCaMP, and the recently published red GECI R-GECO1 give insight into the chromophore environments of the Ca(2+)-bound state of the sensors and the engineered protein domain interfaces of the different indicators. We characterized the biophysical properties and performance of RCaMP sensors in vitro and in vivo in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila larvae, and larval zebrafish. Further, we demonstrate 2-color calcium imaging both within the same cell (registering mitochondrial and somatic [Ca(2+)]) and between two populations of cells: neurons and astrocytes. Finally, we perform integrated optogenetics experiments, wherein neural activation via channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) or a red-shifted variant, and activity imaging via RCaMP or GCaMP, are conducted simultaneously, with the ChR2/RCaMP pair providing independently addressable spectral channels. Using this paradigm, we measure calcium responses of naturalistic and ChR2-evoked muscle contractions in vivo in crawling C. elegans. We systematically compare the RCaMP sensors to R-GECO1, in terms of action potential-evoked fluorescence increases in neurons, photobleaching, and photoswitching. R-GECO1 displays higher Ca(2+) affinity and larger dynamic range than RCaMP, but exhibits significant photoactivation with blue and green light, suggesting that integrated channelrhodopsin-based optogenetics using R-GECO1 may be subject to artifact. Finally, we create and test blue, cyan, and yellow variants engineered from GCaMP by rational design. This engineered set of chromatic variants facilitates new experiments in functional imaging and optogenetics.

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    10/03/12 | Optimization of a GCaMP calcium indicator for neural activity imaging.
    Akerboom J, Chen T, Wardill TJ, Marvin JS, Mutlu S, Carreras Caldero N, Esposti F, Borghuis BG, Sun XR, Gordus A, Orger MB, Portugues R, Engert F, Macklin JJ, Filosa A, Aggarwal A, Kerr R, Takagi R, Kracun S, Shigetomi E, Khakh BS, Baier H, Lagnado L, Wang SS, Bargmann C, Kimmel B, Jayaraman V, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Schreiter ER, Looger LL
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2012 Oct 3;32:13819-40. doi: 10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.2601-12.2012

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) are powerful tools for systems neuroscience. Recent efforts in protein engineering have significantly increased the performance of GECIs. The state-of-the art single-wavelength GECI, GCaMP3, has been deployed in a number of model organisms and can reliably detect three or more action potentials in short bursts in several systems in vivo . Through protein structure determination, targeted mutagenesis, high-throughput screening, and a battery of in vitro assays, we have increased the dynamic range of GCaMP3 by severalfold, creating a family of “GCaMP5” sensors. We tested GCaMP5s in several systems: cultured neurons and astrocytes, mouse retina, and in vivo in Caenorhabditis chemosensory neurons, Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction and adult antennal lobe, zebrafish retina and tectum, and mouse visual cortex. Signal-to-noise ratio was improved by at least 2- to 3-fold. In the visual cortex, two GCaMP5 variants detected twice as many visual stimulus-responsive cells as GCaMP3. By combining in vivo imaging with electrophysiology we show that GCaMP5 fluorescence provides a more reliable measure of neuronal activity than its predecessor GCaMP3.GCaMP5allows more sensitive detection of neural activity in vivo andmayfind widespread applications for cellular imaging in general.

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    02/22/12 | Excitation spectra and brightness optimization of two-photon excited probes.
    Mütze J, Iyer V, Macklin JJ, Colonell J, Karsh B, Petrá\v sek Ze, Schwille P, Looger LL, Lavis LD, Harris TD
    Biophysical Journal. 2012 Feb 22;102(4):934-44. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.12.056

    Two-photon probe excitation data are commonly presented as absorption cross section or molecular brightness (the detected fluorescence rate per molecule). We report two-photon molecular brightness spectra for a diverse set of organic and genetically encoded probes with an automated spectroscopic system based on fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. The two-photon action cross section can be extracted from molecular brightness measurements at low excitation intensities, while peak molecular brightness (the maximum molecular brightness with increasing excitation intensity) is measured at higher intensities at which probe photophysical effects become significant. The spectral shape of these two parameters was similar across all dye families tested. Peak molecular brightness spectra, which can be obtained rapidly and with reduced experimental complexity, can thus serve as a first-order approximation to cross-section spectra in determining optimal wavelengths for two-photon excitation, while providing additional information pertaining to probe photostability. The data shown should assist in probe choice and experimental design for multiphoton microscopy studies. Further, we show that, by the addition of a passive pulse splitter, nonlinear bleaching can be reduced-resulting in an enhancement of the fluorescence signal in fluorescence correlation spectroscopy by a factor of two. This increase in fluorescence signal, together with the observed resemblance of action cross section and peak brightness spectra, suggests higher-order photobleaching pathways for two-photon excitation.

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