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60 Publications

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    09/03/22 | Motion of single molecular tethers reveals dynamic subdomains at ER-mitochondria contact sites
    Christopher J. Obara , Jonathon Nixon-Abell , Andrew S. Moore , Federica Riccio , David P. Hoffman , Gleb Shtengel , C. Shan Xu , Kathy Schaefer , H. Amalia Pasolli , Jean-Baptiste Masson , Harald F. Hess , Christopher P. Calderon , Craig Blackstone , Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz
    bioRxiv. 2022 Sep 03:. doi: 10.1101/2022.09.03.505525

    To coordinate cellular physiology, eukaryotic cells rely on the inter-organelle transfer of molecules at specialized organelle-organelle contact sites1,2. Endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria contact sites (ERMCSs) are particularly vital communication hubs, playing key roles in the exchange of signaling molecules, lipids, and metabolites3. ERMCSs are maintained by interactions between complementary tethering molecules on the surface of each organelle4,5. However, due to the extreme sensitivity of these membrane interfaces to experimental perturbation6,7, a clear understanding of their nanoscale structure and regulation is still lacking. Here, we combine 3D electron microscopy with high-speed molecular tracking of a model organelle tether, VAPB, to map the structure and diffusion landscape of ERMCSs. From EM reconstructions, we identified subdomains within the contact site where ER membranes dramatically deform to match local mitochondrial curvature. In parallel live cell experiments, we observed that the VAPB tethers that mediate this interface were not immobile, but rather highly dynamic, entering and leaving the site in seconds. These subdomains enlarged during nutrient stress, indicating ERMCSs can readily remodel under different physiological conditions. An ALS-associated mutation in VAPB altered the normal fluidity of contact sites, likely perturbing effective communication across the contact site and preventing remodeling. These results establish high speed single molecule imaging as a new tool for mapping the structure of contact site interfaces and suggest that the diffusion landscape of VAPB is a crucial component of ERMCS homeostasis.

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    09/01/22 | A serotonergic axon-cilium synapse drives nuclear signaling to maintain chromatin accessibility
    Shu-Hsien Sheu , Srigokul Upadhyayula , Vincent Dupuy , Song Pang , Andrew L. Lemire , Deepika Walpita , H. Amalia Pasolli , Fei Deng , Jinxia Wan , Lihua Wang , Justin Houser , Silvia Sanchez-Martinez , Sebastian E. Brauchi , Sambashiva Banala , Melanie Freeman , C. Shan Xu , Tom Kirchhausen , Harald F. Hess , Luke Lavis , Yu-Long Li , Séverine Chaumont-Dubel , David E. Clapham
    Cell. 2022 Sep 01;185(18):3390-3407. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2022.07.026

    Chemical synapses between axons and dendrites mediate much of the brain’s intercellular communication. Here we describe a new kind of synapse – the axo-ciliary synapse - between axons and primary cilia. By employing enhanced focused ion beam – scanning electron microscopy on samples with optimally preserved ultrastructure, we discovered synapses between the serotonergic axons arising from the brainstem, and the primary cilia of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Functionally, these cilia are enriched in a ciliary-restricted serotonin receptor, 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 6 (HTR6), whose mutation is associated with learning and memory defects. Using a newly developed cilia-targeted serotonin sensor, we show that optogenetic stimulation of serotonergic axons results in serotonin release onto cilia. Ciliary HTR6 stimulation activates a non-canonical Gαq/11-RhoA pathway. Ablation of this pathway results in nuclear actin and chromatin accessibility changes in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Axo-ciliary synapses serve as a distinct mechanism for neuromodulators to program neuron transcription through privileged access to the nuclear compartment.

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    08/23/22 | Transverse endoplasmic reticulum expansion in hereditary spastic paraplegia corticospinal axons.
    Zhu P, Hung H, Batchenkova N, Nixon-Abell J, Henderson J, Zheng P, Renvoisé B, Pang S, Xu CS, Saalfeld S, Funke J, Xie Y, Svara F, Hess HF, Blackstone C
    Human Molecular Genetics. 2022 Aug 23;31(16):2779-2795. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddac072

    Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) comprise a large group of inherited neurologic disorders affecting the longest corticospinal axons (SPG1-86 plus others), with shared manifestations of lower extremity spasticity and gait impairment. Common autosomal dominant HSPs are caused by mutations in genes encoding the microtubule-severing ATPase spastin (SPAST; SPG4), the membrane-bound GTPase atlastin-1 (ATL1; SPG3A) and the reticulon-like, microtubule-binding protein REEP1 (REEP1; SPG31). These proteins bind one another and function in shaping the tubular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) network. Typically, mouse models of HSPs have mild, later onset phenotypes, possibly reflecting far shorter lengths of their corticospinal axons relative to humans. Here, we have generated a robust, double mutant mouse model of HSP in which atlastin-1 is genetically modified with a K80A knock-in (KI) missense change that abolishes its GTPase activity, whereas its binding partner Reep1 is knocked out. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice exhibit early onset and rapidly progressive declines in several motor function tests. Also, ER in mutant corticospinal axons dramatically expands transversely and periodically in a mutation dosage-dependent manner to create a ladder-like appearance, on the basis of reconstructions of focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy datasets using machine learning-based auto-segmentation. In lockstep with changes in ER morphology, axonal mitochondria are fragmented and proportions of hypophosphorylated neurofilament H and M subunits are dramatically increased in Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- spinal cord. Co-occurrence of these findings links ER morphology changes to alterations in mitochondrial morphology and cytoskeletal organization. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice represent an early onset rodent HSP model with robust behavioral and cellular readouts for testing novel therapies.

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    04/22/22 | ESCRT-mediated membrane repair protects tumor-derived cells against T cell attack.
    Ritter AT, Shtengel G, Xu CS, Weigel A, Hoffman DP, Freeman M, Iyer N, Alivodej N, Ackerman D, Voskoboinik I, Trapani J, Hess HF, Mellman I
    Science. 2022 Apr 22;376(6591):377-382. doi: 10.1126/science.abl3855

    Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer cells kill virus-infected and tumor cells through the polarized release of perforin and granzymes. Perforin is a pore-forming toxin that creates a lesion in the plasma membrane of the target cell through which granzymes enter the cytosol and initiate apoptosis. Endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) proteins are involved in the repair of small membrane wounds. We found that ESCRT proteins were precisely recruited in target cells to sites of CTL engagement immediately after perforin release. Inhibition of ESCRT machinery in cancer-derived cells enhanced their susceptibility to CTL-mediated killing. Thus, repair of perforin pores by ESCRT machinery limits granzyme entry into the cytosol, potentially enabling target cells to resist cytolytic attack.

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    03/26/22 | Transverse endoplasmic reticulum expansion in hereditary spastic paraplegia corticospinal axons.
    Zhu P, Hung H, Batchenkova N, Nixon-Abell J, Henderson J, Zheng P, Renvoisé B, Pang S, Xu CS, Saalfeld S, Funke J, Xie Y, Svara F, Hess HF, Blackstone C
    Human Molecular Genetics. 2022 Mar 26:. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddac072

    Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) comprise a large group of inherited neurologic disorders affecting the longest corticospinal axons (SPG1-86 plus others), with shared manifestations of lower extremity spasticity and gait impairment. Common autosomal dominant HSPs are caused by mutations in genes encoding the microtubule-severing ATPase spastin (SPAST; SPG4), the membrane-bound GTPase atlastin-1 (ATL1; SPG3A), and the reticulon-like, microtubule-binding protein REEP1 (REEP1; SPG31). These proteins bind one another and function in shaping the tubular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) network. Typically, mouse models of HSPs have mild, later-onset phenotypes, possibly reflecting far shorter lengths of their corticospinal axons relative to humans. Here, we have generated a robust, double mutant mouse model of HSP in which atlastin-1 is genetically modified with a K80A knock-in (KI) missense change that abolishes its GTPase activity, while its binding partner Reep1 is knocked out. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice exhibit early-onset and rapidly progressive declines in several motor function tests. Also, ER in mutant corticospinal axons dramatically expands transversely and periodically in a mutation dosage-dependent manner to create a ladder-like appearance, based on reconstructions of focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy datasets using machine learning-based auto-segmentation. In lockstep with changes in ER morphology, axonal mitochondria are fragmented and proportions of hypophosphorylated neurofilament H and M subunits are dramatically increased in Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- spinal cord. Co-occurrence of these findings links ER morphology changes to alterations in mitochondrial morphology and cytoskeletal organization. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice represent an early-onset rodent HSP model with robust behavioral and cellular readouts for testing novel therapies.

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    03/09/22 | Regulation of liver subcellular architecture controls metabolic homeostasis.
    Parlakgül G, Arruda AP, Pang S, Cagampan E, Min N, Güney E, Lee GY, Inouye K, Hess HF, Xu CS, Hotamışlıgil GS
    Nature. 2022 Mar 09;603(7902):736-742. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04488-5

    Cells display complex intracellular organization by compartmentalization of metabolic processes into organelles, yet the resolution of these structures in the native tissue context and their functional consequences are not well understood. Here we resolved the three-dimensional structural organization of organelles in large (more than 2.8 × 10 µm) volumes of intact liver tissue (15 partial or full hepatocytes per condition) at high resolution (8 nm isotropic pixel size) using enhanced focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy imaging followed by deep-learning-based automated image segmentation and 3D reconstruction. We also performed a comparative analysis of subcellular structures in liver tissue of lean and obese mice and found substantial alterations, particularly in hepatic endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which undergoes massive structural reorganization characterized by marked disorganization of stacks of ER sheets and predominance of ER tubules. Finally, we demonstrated the functional importance of these structural changes by monitoring the effects of experimental recovery of the subcellular organization on cellular and systemic metabolism. We conclude that the hepatic subcellular organization of the ER architecture are highly dynamic, integrated with the metabolic state and critical for adaptive homeostasis and tissue health.

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    11/01/21 | An open-access volume electron microscopy atlas of whole cells and tissues.
    Xu CS, Pang S, Shtengel G, Müller A, Ritter AT, Hoffman HK, Takemura S, Lu Z, Pasolli HA, Iyer N, Chung J, Bennett D, Weigel AV, Freeman M, Van Engelenburg SB, Walther TC, Farese RV, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Mellman I, Solimena M, Hess HF
    Nature. 2021 Nov 1;599(7883):147-51. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03992-4

    Understanding cellular architecture is essential for understanding biology. Electron microscopy (EM) uniquely visualizes cellular structures with nanometre resolution. However, traditional methods, such as thin-section EM or EM tomography, have limitations in that they visualize only a single slice or a relatively small volume of the cell, respectively. Focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) has demonstrated the ability to image small volumes of cellular samples with 4-nm isotropic voxels. Owing to advances in the precision and stability of FIB milling, together with enhanced signal detection and faster SEM scanning, we have increased the volume that can be imaged with 4-nm voxels by two orders of magnitude. Here we present a volume EM atlas at such resolution comprising ten three-dimensional datasets for whole cells and tissues, including cancer cells, immune cells, mouse pancreatic islets and Drosophila neural tissues. These open access data (via OpenOrganelle) represent the foundation of a field of high-resolution whole-cell volume EM and subsequent analyses, and we invite researchers to explore this atlas and pose questions.

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    11/01/21 | Whole-cell organelle segmentation in volume electron microscopy.
    Heinrich L, Bennett D, Ackerman D, Park W, Bogovic J, Eckstein N, Petruncio A, Clements J, Pang S, Xu CS, Funke J, Korff W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Saalfeld S, Weigel AV, COSEM Project Team
    Nature. 2021 Nov 01;599(7883):141-46. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03977-3

    Cells contain hundreds of organelles and macromolecular assemblies. Obtaining a complete understanding of their intricate organization requires the nanometre-level, three-dimensional reconstruction of whole cells, which is only feasible with robust and scalable automatic methods. Here, to support the development of such methods, we annotated up to 35 different cellular organelle classes-ranging from endoplasmic reticulum to microtubules to ribosomes-in diverse sample volumes from multiple cell types imaged at a near-isotropic resolution of 4 nm per voxel with focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). We trained deep learning architectures to segment these structures in 4 nm and 8 nm per voxel FIB-SEM volumes, validated their performance and showed that automatic reconstructions can be used to directly quantify previously inaccessible metrics including spatial interactions between cellular components. We also show that such reconstructions can be used to automatically register light and electron microscopy images for correlative studies. We have created an open data and open-source web repository, 'OpenOrganelle', to share the data, computer code and trained models, which will enable scientists everywhere to query and further improve automatic reconstruction of these datasets.

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    04/29/21 | ER-to-Golgi protein delivery through an interwoven, tubular network extending from ER.
    Weigel AV, Chang C, Shtengel G, Xu CS, Hoffman DP, Freeman M, Iyer N, Aaron J, Khuon S, Bogovic J, Qiu W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Cell. 2021 Apr 29;184(9):2412. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.035

    Cellular versatility depends on accurate trafficking of diverse proteins to their organellar destinations. For the secretory pathway (followed by approximately 30% of all proteins), the physical nature of the vessel conducting the first portage (endoplasmic reticulum [ER] to Golgi apparatus) is unclear. We provide a dynamic 3D view of early secretory compartments in mammalian cells with isotropic resolution and precise protein localization using whole-cell, focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy with cryo-structured illumination microscopy and live-cell synchronized cargo release approaches. Rather than vesicles alone, the ER spawns an elaborate, interwoven tubular network of contiguous lipid bilayers (ER exit site) for protein export. This receptacle is capable of extending microns along microtubules while still connected to the ER by a thin neck. COPII localizes to this neck region and dynamically regulates cargo entry from the ER, while COPI acts more distally, escorting the detached, accelerating tubular entity on its way to joining the Golgi apparatus through microtubule-directed movement.

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    02/25/21 | Protocol for preparation of heterogeneous biological samples for 3D electron microscopy: a case study for insects.
    Polilov AA, Makarova AA, Pang S, Shan Xu C, Hess H
    Scientific Reports. 2021 Feb 25;11(1):4717. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83936-0

    Modern morphological and structural studies are coming to a new level by incorporating the latest methods of three-dimensional electron microscopy (3D-EM). One of the key problems for the wide usage of these methods is posed by difficulties with sample preparation, since the methods work poorly with heterogeneous (consisting of tissues different in structure and in chemical composition) samples and require expensive equipment and usually much time. We have developed a simple protocol allows preparing heterogeneous biological samples suitable for 3D-EM in a laboratory that has a standard supply of equipment and reagents for electron microscopy. This protocol, combined with focused ion-beam scanning electron microscopy, makes it possible to study 3D ultrastructure of complex biological samples, e.g., whole insect heads, over their entire volume at the cellular and subcellular levels. The protocol provides new opportunities for many areas of study, including connectomics.

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