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41 Publications

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    05/22/19 | Busted! A dope ring with activity clocked at dawn and dusk.
    Hulse B, Jayaraman V
    Neuron. 2019 May 22;102(4):713-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.05.004

    Clock neurons generate circadian rhythms in behavioral activity, but the relevant pathways remain poorly understood. In this issue of Neuron, Liang et al. (2019) show that distinct clock neurons independently drive movement-promoting “ring neurons” in Drosophila through dopaminergic relays to support morning and evening locomotor activity.

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    04/29/19 | Visually guided behavior and optogenetically induced learning in head-fixed flies exploring a virtual landscape.
    Haberkern H, Basnak MA, Ahanonu B, Schauder D, Cohen JD, Bolstad M, Bruns C, Jayaraman V
    Current Biology : CB. 2019 Apr 29:. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.04.033

    Studying the intertwined roles of sensation, experience, and directed action in navigation has been facilitated by the development of virtual reality (VR) environments for head-fixed animals, allowing for quantitative measurements of behavior in well-controlled conditions. VR has long featured in studies of Drosophila melanogaster, but these experiments have typically allowed the fly to change only its heading in a visual scene and not its position. Here we explore how flies move in two dimensions (2D) using a visual VR environment that more closely captures an animal's experience during free behavior. We show that flies' 2D interaction with landmarks cannot be automatically derived from their orienting behavior under simpler one-dimensional (1D) conditions. Using novel paradigms, we then demonstrate that flies in 2D VR adapt their behavior in response to optogenetically delivered appetitive and aversive stimuli. Much like free-walking flies after encounters with food, head-fixed flies exploring a 2D VR respond to optogenetic activation of sugar-sensing neurons by initiating a local search, which appears not to rely on visual landmarks. Visual landmarks can, however, help flies to avoid areas in VR where they experience an aversive, optogenetically generated heat stimulus. By coupling aversive virtual heat to the flies' presence near visual landmarks of specific shapes, we elicit selective learned avoidance of those landmarks. Thus, we demonstrate that head-fixed flies adaptively navigate in 2D virtual environments, but their reliance on visual landmarks is context dependent. These behavioral paradigms set the stage for interrogation of the fly brain circuitry underlying flexible navigation in complex multisensory environments.

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    10/03/18 | High-performance GFP-based calcium indicators for imaging activity in neuronal populations and microcompartments.
    Dana H, Sun Y, Mohar B, Hulse B, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Tsang A, Wong A, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Chen Y, Konnerth A, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Schreiter ER, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    bioRxiv. 2018 Oct 3:. doi: 10.1101/434589

    Calcium imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) is routinely used to measure neural activity in intact nervous systems. GECIs are frequently used in one of two different modes: to track activity in large populations of neuronal cell bodies, or to follow dynamics in subcellular compartments such as axons, dendrites and individual synaptic compartments. Despite major advances, calcium imaging is still limited by the biophysical properties of existing GECIs, including affinity, signal-to-noise ratio, rise and decay kinetics, and dynamic range. Using structure-guided mutagenesis and neuron-based screening, we optimized the green fluorescent protein-based GECI GCaMP6 for different modes of in vivo imaging. The jGCaMP7 sensors provide improved detection of individual spikes (jGCaMP7s,f), imaging in neurites and neuropil (jGCaMP7b), and tracking large populations of neurons using 2-photon (jGCaMP7s,f) or wide-field (jGCaMP7c) imaging.


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    09/05/18 | Defective cortex glia plasma membrane structure underlies light-induced epilepsy in mutants.
    Kunduri G, Turner-Evans D, Konya Y, Izumi Y, Nagashima K, Lockett S, Holthuis J, Bamba T, Acharya U, Acharya JK
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018 Sep 05;115(38):E8919-28. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1808463115

    Seizures induced by visual stimulation (photosensitive epilepsy; PSE) represent a common type of epilepsy in humans, but the molecular mechanisms and genetic drivers underlying PSE remain unknown, and no good genetic animal models have been identified as yet. Here, we show an animal model of PSE, in , owing to defective cortex glia. The cortex glial membranes are severely compromised in ceramide phosphoethanolamine synthase ()-null mutants and fail to encapsulate the neuronal cell bodies in the neuronal cortex. Expression of human sphingomyelin synthase 1, which synthesizes the closely related ceramide phosphocholine (sphingomyelin), rescues the cortex glial abnormalities and PSE, underscoring the evolutionarily conserved role of these lipids in glial membranes. Further, we show the compromise in plasma membrane structure that underlies the glial cell membrane collapse in mutants and leads to the PSE phenotype.

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    08/20/18 | Building a functional connectome of the central complex.
    Franconville R, Beron C, Jayaraman V
    eLife. 2018 Aug 20;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.37017

    The central complex is a highly conserved insect brain region composed of morphologically stereotyped neurons that arborize in distinctively shaped substructures. The region is implicated in a wide range of behaviors and several modeling studies have explored its circuit computations. Most studies have relied on assumptions about connectivity between neurons based on their overlap in light microscopy images. Here, we present an extensive functional connectome of Drosophila melanogaster's central complex at cell-type resolution. Using simultaneous optogenetic stimulation, calcium imaging and pharmacology, we tested the connectivity between 70 presynaptic-to-postsynaptic cell-type pairs. We identi1ed numerous inputs to the central complex, but only a small number of output channels. Additionally, the connectivity of this highly recurrent circuit appears to be sparser than anticipated from light microscopy images. Finally, the connectivity matrix highlights the potentially critical role of a class of bottleneck interneurons. All data is provided for interactive exploration on a website.

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    06/12/17 | Neural signatures of dynamic stimulus selection in Drosophila.
    Sun Y, Nern A, Franconville R, Dana H, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Hermundstad AM, Jayaraman V
    Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Jun 12;20(8):1104-13. doi: 10.1038/nn.4581

    Many animals orient using visual cues, but how a single cue is selected from among many is poorly understood. Here we show that Drosophila ring neurons—central brain neurons implicated in navigation—display visual stimulus selection. Using in vivo two-color two-photon imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators, we demonstrate that individual ring neurons inherit simple-cell-like receptive fields from their upstream partners. Stimuli in the contralateral visual field suppressed responses to ipsilateral stimuli in both populations. Suppression strength depended on when and where the contralateral stimulus was presented, an effect stronger in ring neurons than in their upstream inputs. This history-dependent effect on the temporal structure of visual responses, which was well modeled by a simple biphasic filter, may determine how visual references are selected for the fly's internal compass. Our approach highlights how two-color calcium imaging can help identify and localize the origins of sensory transformations across synaptically connected neural populations.

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    05/22/17 | Angular velocity integration in a fly heading circuit.
    Turner-Evans D, Wegener S, Rouault H, Franconville R, Wolff T, Seelig JD, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V
    eLife. 2017 May 22;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23496

    Many animals maintain an internal representation of their heading as they move through their surroundings. Such a compass representation was recently discovered in a neural population in the Drosophila melanogaster central complex, a brain region implicated in spatial navigation. Here, we use two-photon calcium imaging and electrophysiology in head-fixed walking flies to identify a different neural population that conjunctively encodes heading and angular velocity, and is excited selectively by turns in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction. We show how these mirror-symmetric turn responses combine with the neurons' connectivity to the compass neurons to create an elegant mechanism for updating the fly's heading representation when the animal turns in darkness. This mechanism, which employs recurrent loops with an angular shift, bears a resemblance to those proposed in theoretical models for rodent head direction cells. Our results provide a striking example of structure matching function for a broadly relevant computation.

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    05/04/17 | Ring attractor dynamics in the Drosophila central brain.
    Kim SS, Rouault H, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 May 04;356(6340):849-53. doi: 10.1126/science.aal4835

    Ring attractors are a class of recurrent networks hypothesized to underlie the representation of heading direction. Such network structures, schematized as a ring of neurons whose connectivity depends on their heading preferences, can sustain a bump-like activity pattern whose location can be updated by continuous shifts along either turn direction. We recently reported that a population of fly neurons represents the animal's heading via bump-like activity dynamics. We combined two-photon calcium imaging in head-fixed flying flies with optogenetics to overwrite the existing population representation with an artificial one, which was then maintained by the circuit with naturalistic dynamics. A network with local excitation and global inhibition enforces this unique and persistent heading representation. Ring attractor networks have long been invoked in theoretical work; our study provides physiological evidence of their existence and functional architecture.

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    Ji LabJayaraman LabSvoboda Lab
    02/27/17 | Video-rate volumetric functional imaging of the brain at synaptic resolution.
    Lu R, Sun W, Liang Y, Kerlin A, Bierfeld J, Seelig JD, Wilson DE, Scholl B, Mohar B, Tanimoto M, Koyama M, Fitzpatrick D, Orger MB, Ji N
    Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Feb 27;20(4):620-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.4516

    Neurons and neural networks often extend hundreds of micrometers in three dimensions. Capturing the calcium transients associated with their activity requires volume imaging methods with subsecond temporal resolution. Such speed is a challenge for conventional two-photon laser-scanning microscopy, because it depends on serial focal scanning in 3D and indicators with limited brightness. Here we present an optical module that is easily integrated into standard two-photon laser-scanning microscopes to generate an axially elongated Bessel focus, which when scanned in 2D turns frame rate into volume rate. We demonstrated the power of this approach in enabling discoveries for neurobiology by imaging the calcium dynamics of volumes of neurons and synapses in fruit flies, zebrafish larvae, mice and ferrets in vivo. Calcium signals in objects as small as dendritic spines could be resolved at video rates, provided that the samples were sparsely labeled to limit overlap in their axially projected images.

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    06/06/16 | The insect central complex.
    Turner-Evans DB, Jayaraman V
    Current Biology : CB. 2016 Jun 06;26(11):R453-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.006

    Hordes of tourists flock to Washington, D.C. every spring to see the cherry trees blossom. Once in the city, they must find their way to the Tidal Basin where the Japanese trees grow. Fortunately, a number of visual landmarks can help them to navigate. In 1910, the United States Congress passed The Height of Buildings Act, limiting the elevation of commercial and residential structures in D.C. to 130 feet. Thus, the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument often looms large against the horizon, serving as an anchor point to help set the tourists' sense of direction. Once their heading is set, they can lose sight of the monument behind buildings or groups of tall Scandinavian visitors and still use their internal compass to navigate to the Basin. This compass keeps track of their paces and turns and updates their sense of where they are and where they need to go. Yet while their heading informs their actions, it does not dictate them. Tourists who have been to D.C. in the past can, for example, use remembered views to alter their routes to avoid crowds. On an even finer scale, their leg movements also depend on their current state - they might increase the frequency and length of their strides if hunger pangs compete with their desire to see cherry blossoms, for example. The way in which these disparate cues and motivations influence exploration is a neuroscience mystery across creatures large and small.

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