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134 Publications

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    Looger Lab
    09/20/16 | Molecularly Defined Subplate Neurons Project Both to Thalamocortical Recipient Layers and Thalamus.
    Viswanathan S, Sheikh A, Looger LL, Kanold PO
    Cerebral Cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991). 2016 Sep 20;27(10):4759-68. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw271

    In mammals, subplate neurons (SPNs) are among the first generated cortical neurons. While most SPNs exist only transiently during development, a number of SPNs persist among adult Layer 6b (L6b). During development, SPNs receive thalamic and intra-cortical input, and primarily project to Layer 4 (L4). SPNs are critical for the anatomical and functional development of thalamocortical connections and also pioneer corticothalamic projections. Since SPNs are heterogeneous, SPN subpopulations might serve different roles. Here, we investigate the connectivity of one subpopulation, complexin-3 (Cplx3)-positive SPNs (Cplx3-SPNs), in mouse whisker somatosensory (barrel) cortex (S1). We find that many Cplx3-SPNs survive into adulthood and become a subpopulation of L6b. Cplx3-SPNs axons project to thalamorecipient layers, that is, L4, 5a, and 1. The L4 projections are biased towards the septal regions between barrels in the second postnatal week. Thus, S1 Cplx3-SPN targets co-localize with the eventual projections of the medial posterior thalamic nucleus (POm). In addition to their cortical targets, Cplx3-SPNs also extend long-range axons to several thalamic nuclei, including POm. Thus, Cplx3-SPN/L6b neurons are associated with paralemniscal pathways and can potentially directly link thalamocortical and corticothalamic circuits. This suggests an additional key role for SPNs in the establishment and maintenance of thalamocortical processing.

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    Looger Lab
    06/27/16 | Falling apart.
    Marvin JS, Looger LL
    eLife. 2016;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.18203

    Destabilized nanobodies can be used to deliver fluorescent proteins and enzymes to specific targets inside cells.

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    Looger Lab
    06/01/16 | GFP-aequorin protein sensor for ex vivo and in vivo imaging of Ca(2+) dynamics in high-Ca(2+) organelles.
    Navas-Navarro P, Rojo-Ruiz J, Rodriguez-Prados M, Ganfornina MD, Looger LL, Alonso MT, García-Sancho J
    Cell Chemical Biology. 2016 Jun 1:. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2016.05.010

    Proper functioning of organelles such as the ER or the Golgi apparatus requires luminal accumulation of Ca(2+) at high concentrations. Here we describe a ratiometric low-affinity Ca(2+) sensor of the GFP-aequorin protein (GAP) family optimized for measurements in high-Ca(2+) concentration environments. Transgenic animals expressing the ER-targeted sensor allowed monitoring of Ca(2+) signals inside the organelle. The use of the sensor was demonstrated under three experimental paradigms: (1) ER Ca(2+) oscillations in cultured astrocytes, (2) ex vivo functional mapping of cholinergic receptors triggering ER Ca(2+) release in acute hippocampal slices from transgenic mice, and (3) in vivo sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+) dynamics in the muscle of transgenic flies. Our results provide proof of the suitability of the new biosensors to monitor Ca(2+) dynamics inside intracellular organelles under physiological conditions and open an avenue to explore complex Ca(2+) signaling in animal models of health and disease.

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    05/05/16 | Real-time quantification of single RNA translation dynamics in living cells.
    Morisaki T, Lyon K, DeLuca KF, DeLuca JG, English BP, Zhang Z, Lavis LD, Grimm JB, Viswanathan S, Looger LL
    Science. 2016 May 05;352(6292):1425-9. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf0899

    Although mRNA translation is a fundamental biological process, it has never been imaged in real-time with single molecule precision in vivo. To achieve this, we developed Nascent Chain Tracking (NCT), a technique that uses multi-epitope tags and antibody-based fluorescent probes to quantify single mRNA protein synthesis dynamics. NCT reveals an elongation rate of ~10 amino acids per second, with initiation occurring stochastically every ~30 s. Polysomes contain ~1 ribosome every 200-900 nucleotides and are globular rather than elongated in shape. By developing multi-color probes, we show most polysomes act independently; however, a small fraction (~5%) form complexes in which two distinct mRNAs can be translated simultaneously. The sensitivity and versatility of NCT make it a powerful new tool for quantifying mRNA translation kinetics.

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    03/24/16 | Sensitive red protein calcium indicators for imaging neural activity.
    Dana H, Mohar B, Sun Y, Narayan S, Gordus A, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Holt GT, Hu A, Walpita D, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Bargmann CI, Ahrens MB, Schreiter ER, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    eLife. 2016 Mar 24;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12727

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) allow measurement of activity in large populations of neurons and in small neuronal compartments, over times of milliseconds to months. Although GFP-based GECIs are widely used for in vivo neurophysiology, GECIs with red-shifted excitation and emission spectra have advantages for in vivo imaging because of reduced scattering and absorption in tissue, and a consequent reduction in phototoxicity. However, current red GECIs are inferior to the state-of-the-art GFP-based GCaMP6 indicators for detecting and quantifying neural activity. Here we present improved red GECIs based on mRuby (jRCaMP1a, b) and mApple (jRGECO1a), with sensitivity comparable to GCaMP6. We characterized the performance of the new red GECIs in cultured neurons and in mouse, Drosophila, zebrafish and C. elegans in vivo. Red GECIs facilitate deep-tissue imaging, dual-color imaging together with GFP-based reporters, and the use of optogenetics in combination with calcium imaging.

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    Looger Lab
    03/23/16 | Dysfunctional calcium and glutamate signaling in striatal astrocytes from Huntington's Disease model mice.
    Jiang R, Diaz-Castro B, Looger LL, Khakh BS
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2016 Mar 23;36(12):3453-70. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3693-15.2016

    UNLABELLED: Astrocytes tile the entire CNS, but their functions within neural circuits in health and disease remain incompletely understood. We used genetically encoded Ca(2+)and glutamate indicators to explore the rules for astrocyte engagement in the corticostriatal circuit of adult wild-type (WT) and Huntington's disease (HD) model mice at ages not accompanied by overt astrogliosis (at approximately postnatal days 70-80). WT striatal astrocytes displayed extensive spontaneous Ca(2+)signals, but did not respond to cortical stimulation, implying that astrocytes were largely disengaged from cortical input in healthy tissue. In contrast, in HD model mice, spontaneous Ca(2+)signals were significantly reduced in frequency, duration, and amplitude, but astrocytes responded robustly to cortical stimulation with evoked Ca(2+)signals. These action-potential-dependent astrocyte Ca(2+)signals were mediated by neuronal glutamate release during cortical stimulation, accompanied by prolonged extracellular glutamate levels near astrocytes and tightly gated by Glt1 glutamate transporters. Moreover, dysfunctional Ca(2+)and glutamate signaling that was observed in HD model mice was largely, but not completely, rescued by astrocyte specific restoration of Kir4.1, emphasizing the important contributions of K(+)homeostatic mechanisms that are known to be reduced in HD model mice. Overall, our data show that astrocyte engagement in the corticostriatal circuit is markedly altered in HD. Such prodromal astrocyte dysfunctions may represent novel therapeutic targets in HD and other brain disorders.

    SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: We report how early-onset astrocyte dysfunction without detectable astrogliosis drives disease-related processes in a mouse model of Huntington's disease (HD). The cellular mechanisms involve astrocyte homeostasis and signaling mediated by Kir4.1, Glt1, and Ca(2+) The data show that the rules for astrocyte engagement in a neuronal circuit are fundamentally altered in a brain disease caused by a known molecular defect and that fixing early homeostasis dysfunction remedies additional cellular deficits. Overall, our data suggest that key aspects of altered striatal function associated with HD may be triggered, at least in part, by dysfunctional astrocytes, thereby providing details of an emerging striatal microcircuit mechanism in HD. Such prodromal changes in astrocytes may represent novel therapeutic targets.

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    Looger Lab
    03/01/16 | High-density genotyping of immune-related loci identifies new SLE risk variants in individuals with Asian ancestry.
    Sun C, Molineros JE, Looger LL, Zhou X, Kim K, Okada Y, Ma J, Qi Y, Kim-Howard X, Motghare P, Bhattarai K, Adler A, Bang S, Lee H, Kim T, Kang YM, Suh C, Chung WT, Park Y, Choe J, Shim SC, Kochi Y, Suzuki A, Kubo M, Sumida T, Yamamoto K, Lee S, Kim YJ, Han B, Dozmorov M, Kaufman KM, Wren JD, Harley JB, Shen N, Chua KH, Zhang H, Bae S, Nath SK
    Nature Genetics. 2016 Mar;48(3):323-30. doi: 10.1038/ng.3496

    Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has a strong but incompletely understood genetic architecture. We conducted an association study with replication in 4,478 SLE cases and 12,656 controls from six East Asian cohorts to identify new SLE susceptibility loci and better localize known loci. We identified ten new loci and confirmed 20 known loci with genome-wide significance. Among the new loci, the most significant locus was GTF2IRD1-GTF2I at 7q11.23 (rs73366469, Pmeta = 3.75 × 10(-117), odds ratio (OR) = 2.38), followed by DEF6, IL12B, TCF7, TERT, CD226, PCNXL3, RASGRP1, SYNGR1 and SIGLEC6. We identified the most likely functional variants at each locus by analyzing epigenetic marks and gene expression data. Ten candidate variants are known to alter gene expression in cis or in trans. Enrichment analysis highlights the importance of these loci in B cell and T cell biology. The new loci, together with previously known loci, increase the explained heritability of SLE to 24%. The new loci share functional and ontological characteristics with previously reported loci and are possible drug targets for SLE therapeutics.

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    Looger LabKeller Lab
    12/15/15 | Direct in vivo manipulation and imaging of calcium transients in neutrophils identify a critical role for leading-edge calcium flux.
    Beerman RW, Matty MA, Au GG, Looger LL, Choudhury KR, Keller PJ, Tobin DM
    Cell Reports. 2015 Dec 15;13(10):2107-17. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.11.010

    Calcium signaling has long been associated with key events of immunity, including chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and activation. However, imaging and manipulation of calcium flux in motile immune cells in live animals remain challenging. Using light-sheet microscopy for in vivo calcium imaging in zebrafish, we observe characteristic patterns of calcium flux triggered by distinct events, including phagocytosis of pathogenic bacteria and migration of neutrophils toward inflammatory stimuli. In contrast to findings from ex vivo studies, we observe enriched calcium influx at the leading edge of migrating neutrophils. To directly manipulate calcium dynamics in vivo, we have developed transgenic lines with cell-specific expression of the mammalian TRPV1 channel, enabling ligand-gated, reversible, and spatiotemporal control of calcium influx. We find that controlled calcium influx can function to help define the neutrophil's leading edge. Cell-specific TRPV1 expression may have broad utility for precise control of calcium dynamics in other immune cell types and organisms.

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    10/09/15 | A Low Affinity GCaMP3 Variant (GCaMPer) for Imaging the Endoplasmic Reticulum Calcium Store.
    Henderson MJ, Baldwin HA, Werley CA, Boccardo S, Whitaker LR, Yan X, Holt GT, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, Cohen AE, Kim DS, Harvey BK
    PloS one. 2015 Oct 09;10(10):e0139273. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139273

    Endoplasmic reticulum calcium homeostasis is critical for cellular functions and is disrupted in diverse pathologies including neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease. Owing to the high concentration of calcium within the ER, studying this subcellular compartment requires tools that are optimized for these conditions. To develop a single-fluorophore genetically encoded calcium indicator for this organelle, we targeted a low affinity variant of GCaMP3 to the ER lumen (GCaMPer (10.19)). A set of viral vectors was constructed to express GCaMPer in human neuroblastoma cells, rat primary cortical neurons, and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. We observed dynamic changes in GCaMPer (10.19) fluorescence in response to pharmacologic manipulations of the ER calcium store. Additionally, periodic calcium efflux from the ER was observed during spontaneous beating of cardiomyocytes. GCaMPer (10.19) has utility in imaging ER calcium in living cells and providing insight into luminal calcium dynamics under physiologic and pathologic states.

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    Schreiter LabLooger Lab
    09/18/15 | Green-to-red photoconversion of GCaMP.
    Ai M, Mills H, Kanai M, Lai J, Deng J, Schreiter E, Looger L, Neubert T, Suh G
    PLoS One. 2015 Sep 18;10(9):e0138127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138127

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) permit imaging intracellular calcium transients. Among GECIs, the GFP-based GCaMPs are the most widely used because of their high sensitivity and rapid response to changes in intracellular calcium concentrations. Here we report that the fluorescence of GCaMPs-including GCaMP3, GCaMP5 and GCaMP6-can be converted from green to red following exposure to blue-green light (450-500 nm). This photoconversion occurs in both insect and mammalian cells and is enhanced in a low oxygen environment. The red fluorescent GCaMPs retained calcium responsiveness, albeit with reduced sensitivity. We identified several amino acid residues in GCaMP important for photoconversion and generated a GCaMP variant with increased photoconversion efficiency in cell culture. This light-induced spectral shift allows the ready labeling of specific, targeted sets of GCaMP-expressing cells for functional imaging in the red channel. Together, these findings indicate the potential for greater utility of existing GCaMP reagents, including transgenic animals.

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