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134 Publications

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    Looger Lab
    02/12/19 | A genetically encoded single-wavelength sensor for imaging cytosolic and cell surface ATP.
    Lobas MA, Tao R, Nagai J, Kronschläger MT, Borden PM, Marvin JS, Looger LL, Khakh BS
    Nature Communications. 2019 Feb 12;10(1):711. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08441-5

    Adenosine 5' triphosphate (ATP) is a universal intracellular energy source and an evolutionarily ancient, ubiquitous extracellular signal in diverse species. Here, we report the generation and characterization of single-wavelength genetically encoded fluorescent sensors (iATPSnFRs) for imaging extracellular and cytosolic ATP from insertion of circularly permuted superfolder GFP into the epsilon subunit of FF-ATPase from Bacillus PS3. On the cell surface and within the cytosol, iATPSnFR responds to relevant ATP concentrations (30 μM to 3 mM) with fast increases in fluorescence. iATPSnFRs can be genetically targeted to specific cell types and sub-cellular compartments, imaged with standard light microscopes, do not respond to other nucleotides and nucleosides, and when fused with a red fluorescent protein function as ratiometric indicators. After careful consideration of their modest pH sensitivity, iATPSnFRs represent promising reagents for imaging ATP in the extracellular space and within cells during a variety of settings, and for further application-specific refinements.

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    Looger Lab
    02/04/19 | Determining the pharmacokinetics of nicotinic drugs in the endoplasmic reticulum using biosensors.
    Shivange AV, Borden PM, Muthusamy AK, Nichols AL, Bera K, Bao H, Bishara I, Jeon J, Mulcahy MJ, Cohen B, O'Riordan SL, Kim C, Dougherty DA, Chapman ER, Marvin J, Looger L, Lester HA
    The Journal of General Physiology. 2019 Feb 04:. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201812201

    Nicotine dependence is thought to arise in part because nicotine permeates into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where it binds to nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) and begins an "inside-out" pathway that leads to up-regulation of nAChRs on the plasma membrane. However, the dynamics of nicotine entry into the ER are unquantified. Here, we develop a family of genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors for nicotine, termed iNicSnFRs. The iNicSnFRs are fusions between two proteins: a circularly permutated GFP and a periplasmic choline-/betaine-binding protein engineered to bind nicotine. The biosensors iNicSnFR3a and iNicSnFR3b respond to nicotine by increasing fluorescence at [nicotine] <1 µM, the concentration in the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid of a smoker. We target iNicSnFR3 biosensors either to the plasma membrane or to the ER and measure nicotine kinetics in HeLa, SH-SY5Y, N2a, and HEK293 cell lines, as well as mouse hippocampal neurons and human stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons. In all cell types, we find that nicotine equilibrates in the ER within 10 s (possibly within 1 s) of extracellular application and leaves as rapidly after removal from the extracellular solution. The [nicotine] in the ER is within twofold of the extracellular value. We use these data to run combined pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic simulations of human smoking. In the ER, the inside-out pathway begins when nicotine becomes a stabilizing pharmacological chaperone for some nAChR subtypes, even at concentrations as low as ∼10 nM. Such concentrations would persist during the 12 h of a typical smoker's day, continually activating the inside-out pathway by >75%. Reducing nicotine intake by 10-fold decreases activation to ∼20%. iNicSnFR3a and iNicSnFR3b also sense the smoking cessation drug varenicline, revealing that varenicline also permeates into the ER within seconds. Our iNicSnFRs enable optical subcellular pharmacokinetics for nicotine and varenicline during an early event in the inside-out pathway.

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    Looger Lab
    02/04/19 | Determining the pharmacokinetics of nicotinic drugs in the endoplasmic reticulum using biosensors.
    Shivange AV, Borden PM, Muthusamy AK, Nichols AL, Bera K, Bao H, Bishara I, Jeon J, Mulcahy MJ, Cohen B, O'Riordan SL, Kim C, Dougherty DA, Chapman ER, Marvin J, Looger L, Lester HA
    The Journal of General Physiology. 2019 Feb 04;151(6):738-57. doi: 10.1085/jgp.201812201

    Nicotine dependence is thought to arise in part because nicotine permeates into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where it binds to nicotinic receptors (nAChRs) and begins an "inside-out" pathway that leads to up-regulation of nAChRs on the plasma membrane. However, the dynamics of nicotine entry into the ER are unquantified. Here, we develop a family of genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors for nicotine, termed iNicSnFRs. The iNicSnFRs are fusions between two proteins: a circularly permutated GFP and a periplasmic choline-/betaine-binding protein engineered to bind nicotine. The biosensors iNicSnFR3a and iNicSnFR3b respond to nicotine by increasing fluorescence at [nicotine] <1 µM, the concentration in the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid of a smoker. We target iNicSnFR3 biosensors either to the plasma membrane or to the ER and measure nicotine kinetics in HeLa, SH-SY5Y, N2a, and HEK293 cell lines, as well as mouse hippocampal neurons and human stem cell-derived dopaminergic neurons. In all cell types, we find that nicotine equilibrates in the ER within 10 s (possibly within 1 s) of extracellular application and leaves as rapidly after removal from the extracellular solution. The [nicotine] in the ER is within twofold of the extracellular value. We use these data to run combined pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic simulations of human smoking. In the ER, the inside-out pathway begins when nicotine becomes a stabilizing pharmacological chaperone for some nAChR subtypes, even at concentrations as low as ∼10 nM. Such concentrations would persist during the 12 h of a typical smoker's day, continually activating the inside-out pathway by >75%. Reducing nicotine intake by 10-fold decreases activation to ∼20%. iNicSnFR3a and iNicSnFR3b also sense the smoking cessation drug varenicline, revealing that varenicline also permeates into the ER within seconds. Our iNicSnFRs enable optical subcellular pharmacokinetics for nicotine and varenicline during an early event in the inside-out pathway.

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    Looger Lab
    11/05/18 | A sequence-based approach for identifying protein fold switchers.
    Soumya Mishra , Loren L. Looger , Lauren L. Porter
    bioRxiv. 2018 Nov 05:. doi: 10.1101/462606

    Although most proteins conform to the classical one-structure/one-function paradigm, an increasing number of proteins with dual structures and functions are emerging. These fold-switching proteins remodel their secondary structures in response to cellular stimuli, fostering multi-functionality and tight cellular control. Accurate predictions of fold-switching proteins could both suggest underlying mechanisms for uncharacterized biological processes and reveal potential drug targets. Previously, we developed a prediction method for fold-switching proteins based on secondary structure predictions and structure-based thermodynamic calculations. Given the large number of genomic sequences without homologous experimentally characterized structures, however, we sought to predict fold-switching proteins from their sequences alone. To do this, we leveraged state-of-the-art secondary structure predictions, which require only amino acid sequences but are not currently designed to identify structural duality in proteins. Thus, we hypothesized that incorrect and inconsistent secondary structure predictions could be good initial predictors of fold-switching proteins. We found that secondary structure predictions of fold-switching proteins with solved structures are indeed less accurate than secondary structure predictions of non-fold-switching proteins with solved structures. These inaccuracies result largely from the conformations of fold-switching proteins that are underrepresented in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), and, consequently, the training sets of secondary structure predictors. Given that secondary structure predictions are homology-based, we hypothesized that decontextualizing the inaccurately-predicted regions of fold-switching proteins could weaken the homology relationships between these regions and their overpopulated structural representatives. Thus, we reran secondary structure predictions on these regions in isolation and found that they were significantly more inconsistent than in regions of non-fold-switching proteins. Thus, inconsistent secondary structure predictions can serve as a preliminary marker of fold switching. These findings have implications for genomics and the future development of secondary structure predictors.

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    11/01/18 | Stability, affinity and chromatic variants of the glutamate sensor iGluSnFR.
    Marvin JS, Scholl B, Wilson DE, Podgorski K, Kazemipour A, Mueller JA, Schoch-McGovern S, Wang SS, Quiroz FJ, Rebola N, Bao H, Little JP, Tkachuk AN, Hantman AW, Chapman ER, Dietrich D, DiGregorio DA, Fitzpatrick D, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2018 Nov;15(11):9386-9. doi: 10.1038/s41592-018-0171-3

    Single-wavelength fluorescent reporters allow visualization of specific neurotransmitters with high spatial and temporal resolution. We report variants of intensity-based glutamate-sensing fluorescent reporter (iGluSnFR) that are functionally brighter; detect submicromolar to millimolar amounts of glutamate; and have blue, cyan, green, or yellow emission profiles. These variants could be imaged in vivo in cases where original iGluSnFR was too dim, resolved glutamate transients in dendritic spines and axonal boutons, and allowed imaging at kilohertz rates.

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    Looger LabSvoboda LabMouseLightQuantitative Genomics
    10/31/18 | Distinct descending motor cortex pathways and their roles in movement.
    Economo MN, Viswanathan S, Tasic B, Bas E, Winnubst J, Menon V, Graybuck LT, Nguyen TN, Smith KA, Yao Z, Wang L, Gerfen CR, Chandrashekar J, Zeng H, Looger LL, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7729):79-84. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0642-9

    Activity in the motor cortex predicts movements, seconds before they are initiated. This preparatory activity has been observed across cortical layers, including in descending pyramidal tract neurons in layer 5. A key question is how preparatory activity is maintained without causing movement, and is ultimately converted to a motor command to trigger appropriate movements. Here, using single-cell transcriptional profiling and axonal reconstructions, we identify two types of pyramidal tract neuron. Both types project to several targets in the basal ganglia and brainstem. One type projects to thalamic regions that connect back to motor cortex; populations of these neurons produced early preparatory activity that persisted until the movement was initiated. The second type projects to motor centres in the medulla and mainly produced late preparatory activity and motor commands. These results indicate that two types of motor cortex output neurons have specialized roles in motor control.

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    Looger LabSvoboda Lab
    10/31/18 | Shared and distinct transcriptomic cell types across neocortical areas.
    Tasic B, Yao Z, Graybuck LT, Smith KA, Nguyen TN, Bertagnolli D, Goldy J, Garren E, Economo MN, Viswanathan S, Penn O, Bakken T, Menon V, Miller J, Fong O, Hirokawa KE, Lathia K, Rimorin C, Tieu M, Larsen R, Casper T, Barkan E, Kroll M, Parry S, Shapovalova NV, Hirschstein D, Pendergraft J, Sullivan HA, Kim TK, Szafer A, Dee N, Groblewski P, Wickersham I, Cetin A, Harris JA, Levi BP, Sunkin SM, Madisen L, Daigle TL, Looger L, Bernard A, Phillips J, Lein E, Hawrylycz M, Svoboda K, Jones AR, Koch C, Zeng H
    Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7729):72-78. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0654-5

    The neocortex contains a multitude of cell types that are segregated into layers and functionally distinct areas. To investigate the diversity of cell types across the mouse neocortex, here we analysed 23,822 cells from two areas at distant poles of the mouse neocortex: the primary visual cortex and the anterior lateral motor cortex. We define 133 transcriptomic cell types by deep, single-cell RNA sequencing. Nearly all types of GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid)-containing neurons are shared across both areas, whereas most types of glutamatergic neurons were found in one of the two areas. By combining single-cell RNA sequencing and retrograde labelling, we match transcriptomic types of glutamatergic neurons to their long-range projection specificity. Our study establishes a combined transcriptomic and projectional taxonomy of cortical cell types from functionally distinct areas of the adult mouse cortex.

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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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    Looger Lab
    07/10/18 | Aberrant calcium signaling in astrocytes inhibits neuronal excitability in a human Down syndrome stem cell model.
    Tian L, Or G, Wang Y, Shi G, Wang Y, Sun J, Papadopoulos S, Broussard G, Unger E, Deng W, Weick J, Bhattacharyya A, Chen C, Yu G, Looger LL
    Cell Reports. 2018 Jul 10;24(2):355-65. doi: 10.1101/247585

    Down syndrome (DS) is a genetic disorder that causes cognitive impairment. The staggering effects associated with an extra copy of human chromosome 21 (HSA21) complicates mechanistic understanding of DS pathophysiology. We examined the neuron-astrocyte interplay in a fully recapitulated HSA21 trisomy cellular model differentiated from DS-patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). By combining calcium imaging with genetic approaches, we discovered the functional defects of DS astroglia and their effects on neuronal excitability. Compared with control isogenic astroglia, DS astroglia exhibited more-frequent spontaneous calcium fluctuations, which reduced the excitability of co-cultured neurons. Furthermore, suppressed neuronal activity could be rescued by abolishing astrocytic spontaneous calcium activity either chemically by blocking adenosine-mediated signaling or genetically by knockdown of inositol triphosphate (IP3) receptors or S100B, a calcium binding protein coded on HSA21. Our results suggest a mechanism by which DS alters the function of astrocytes, which subsequently disturbs neuronal excitability.

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    Looger Lab
    05/21/18 | Extant fold-switching proteins are widespread.
    Porter LL, Looger LL
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2018 May 21;115(23):5968-73. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1800168115

    A central tenet of biology is that globular proteins have a unique 3D structure under physiological conditions. Recent work has challenged this notion by demonstrating that some proteins switch folds, a process that involves remodeling of secondary structure in response to a few mutations (evolved fold switchers) or cellular stimuli (extant fold switchers). To date, extant fold switchers have been viewed as rare byproducts of evolution, but their frequency has been neither quantified nor estimated. By systematically and exhaustively searching the Protein Data Bank (PDB), we found ∼100 extant fold-switching proteins. Furthermore, we gathered multiple lines of evidence suggesting that these proteins are widespread in nature. Based on these lines of evidence, we hypothesized that the frequency of extant fold-switching proteins may be underrepresented by the structures in the PDB. Thus, we sought to identify other putative extant fold switchers with only one solved conformation. To do this, we identified two characteristic features of our ∼100 extant fold-switching proteins, incorrect secondary structure predictions and likely independent folding cooperativity, and searched the PDB for other proteins with similar features. Reassuringly, this method identified dozens of other proteins in the literature with indication of a structural change but only one solved conformation in the PDB. Thus, we used it to estimate that 0.5-4% of PDB proteins switch folds. These results demonstrate that extant fold-switching proteins are likely more common than the PDB reflects, which has implications for cell biology, genomics, and human health.

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