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134 Publications

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    Ahrens LabLooger LabKeller LabFreeman Lab
    07/27/14 | Light-sheet functional imaging in fictively behaving zebrafish.
    Vladimirov N, Mu Y, Kawashima T, Bennett DV, Yang C, Looger LL, Keller PJ, Freeman J, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2014 Jul 27;11(9):883-4. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3040

    The processing of sensory input and the generation of behavior involves large networks of neurons, which necessitates new technology for recording from many neurons in behaving animals. In the larval zebrafish, light-sheet microscopy can be used to record the activity of almost all neurons in the brain simultaneously at single-cell resolution. Existing implementations, however, cannot be combined with visually driven behavior because the light sheet scans over the eye, interfering with presentation of controlled visual stimuli. Here we describe a system that overcomes the confounding eye stimulation through the use of two light sheets and combines whole-brain light-sheet imaging with virtual reality for fictively behaving larval zebrafish.

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    Looger LabAhrens LabFreeman LabSvoboda Lab
    07/27/14 | Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing.
    Freeman J, Vladimirov N, Kawashima T, Mu Y, Sofroniew NJ, Bennett DV, Rosen J, Yang C, Looger LL, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2014 Jul 27;11(9):941-950. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3041

    Understanding brain function requires monitoring and interpreting the activity of large networks of neurons during behavior. Advances in recording technology are greatly increasing the size and complexity of neural data. Analyzing such data will pose a fundamental bottleneck for neuroscience. We present a library of analytical tools called Thunder built on the open-source Apache Spark platform for large-scale distributed computing. The library implements a variety of univariate and multivariate analyses with a modular, extendable structure well-suited to interactive exploration and analysis development. We demonstrate how these analyses find structure in large-scale neural data, including whole-brain light-sheet imaging data from fictively behaving larval zebrafish, and two-photon imaging data from behaving mouse. The analyses relate neuronal responses to sensory input and behavior, run in minutes or less and can be used on a private cluster or in the cloud. Our open-source framework thus holds promise for turning brain activity mapping efforts into biological insights.

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    Looger Lab
    07/16/14 | Receptive field properties of bipolar cell axon terminals in the direction-selective sublaminas of the mouse retina.
    Chen M, Lee S, Park SJ, Looger LL, Zhou ZJ
    Journal of Neurophysiology. 2014 Jul 16;112(8):1950-62. doi: 10.1152/jn.00283.2014

    Retinal bipolar cells (BCs) transmit visual signals in parallel channels from the outer to the inner retina, where they provide glutamatergic inputs to specific networks of amacrine and ganglion cells. Intricate network computation at BC axon terminals has been proposed as a mechanism for complex network computation, such as direction selectivity, but direct knowledge of the receptive field property and the synaptic connectivity of the axon terminals of various BC types is required in order to understand the role of axonal computation by BCs. The present study tested the essential assumptions of the presynaptic model of direction selectivity at axon terminals of three functionally distinct BC types that ramify in the direction-selective strata of the mouse retina. Results from two-photon Ca2+ imaging, optogenetic stimulation, and dual patch-clamp recording demonstrated that (1) CB5 cells do not receive fast GABAergic synaptic feedback from starburst amacrine cells (SACs), (2) light-evoked and spontaneous Ca2+ responses are well coordinated among various local regions of CB5 axon terminals, (3) CB5 axon terminals are not directionally selective, (4) CB5 cells consist of two novel functional subtypes with distinct receptive field structures, (5) CB7 cells provide direct excitatory synaptic inputs to, but receive no direct GABAergic synaptic feedback from SACs, and (6) CB7 axon terminals are not directionally selective either. These findings help to simplify models of direction selectivity by ruling out complex computation at BC terminals. They also show that CB5 comprises two functional subclasses of BCs.

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    Looger Lab
    04/30/14 | Kainate receptors mediate signaling in both transient and sustained OFF bipolar cell pathways in mouse retina.
    Borghuis BG, Looger LL, Tomita S, Demb JB
    Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Apr 30;34(18):6128-39. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4941-13.2014

    A fundamental question in sensory neuroscience is how parallel processing is implemented at the level of molecular and circuit mechanisms. In the retina, it has been proposed that distinct OFF cone bipolar cell types generate fast/transient and slow/sustained pathways by the differential expression of AMPA- and kainate-type glutamate receptors, respectively. However, the functional significance of these receptors in the intact circuit during light stimulation remains unclear. Here, we measured glutamate release from mouse bipolar cells by two-photon imaging of a glutamate sensor (iGluSnFR) expressed on postsynaptic amacrine and ganglion cell dendrites. In both transient and sustained OFF layers, cone-driven glutamate release from bipolar cells was blocked by antagonists to kainate receptors but not AMPA receptors. Electrophysiological recordings from bipolar and ganglion cells confirmed the essential role of kainate receptors for signaling in both transient and sustained OFF pathways. Kainate receptors mediated responses to contrast modulation up to 20 Hz. Light-evoked responses in all mouse OFF bipolar pathways depend on kainate, not AMPA, receptors.

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    Looger Lab
    04/16/14 | Conditions and constraints for astrocyte calcium signaling in the hippocampal mossy fiber pathway.
    Haustein MD, Kracun S, Lu X, Shih T, Jackson-Weaver O, Tong X, Xu J, Yang XW, O’Dell TJ, Marvin JS, Ellisman MH, Bushong EA, Looger LL, Khakh BS
    Neuron. 2014 Apr 16;82(2):413-29. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.02.041

    The spatiotemporal activities of astrocyte Ca(2+) signaling in mature neuronal circuits remain unclear. We used genetically encoded Ca(2+) and glutamate indicators as well as pharmacogenetic and electrical control of neurotransmitter release to explore astrocyte activity in the hippocampal mossy fiber pathway. Our data revealed numerous localized, spontaneous Ca(2+) signals in astrocyte branches and territories, but these were not driven by neuronal activity or glutamate. Moreover, evoked astrocyte Ca(2+) signaling changed linearly with the number of mossy fiber action potentials. Under these settings, astrocyte responses were global, suppressed by neurotransmitter clearance, and mediated by glutamate and GABA. Thus, astrocyte engagement in the fully developed mossy fiber pathway was slow and territorial, contrary to that frequently proposed for astrocytes within microcircuits. We show that astrocyte Ca(2+) signaling functionally segregates large volumes of neuropil and that these transients are not suited for responding to, or regulating, single synapses in the mossy fiber pathway.

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    Looger Lab
    03/15/14 | Allelic heterogeneity in NCF2 associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility across four ethnic populations.
    Kim-Howard X, Sun C, Molineros JE, Maiti AK, Chandru H, Adler A, Wiley GB, Kaufman KM, Kottyan L, Guthridge JM, Rasmussen A, Kelly J, Sánchez E, Raj P, Li Q, Bang S, Lee H, Kim T, Kang YM, Suh C, Chung WT, Park Y, Choe J, Shim SC, Lee S, Han B, Olsen NJ, Karp DR, Moser K, Pons-Estel BA, Wakeland EK, James JA, Harley JB, Bae S, Gaffney PM, Alarcón-Riquelme M, Looger LL, Nath SK
    Human Molecular Genetics. 2014 Mar 15;23(6):1656-68. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt532

    Recent reports have associated NCF2, encoding a core component of the multi-protein NADPH oxidase (NADPHO), with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility in individuals of European ancestry. To identify ethnicity-specific and -robust variants within NCF2, we assessed 145 SNPs in and around the NCF2 gene in 5325 cases and 21 866 controls of European-American (EA), African-American (AA), Hispanic (HS) and Korean (KR) ancestry. Subsequent imputation, conditional, haplotype and bioinformatic analyses identified seven potentially functional SLE-predisposing variants. Association with non-synonymous rs17849502, previously reported in EA, was detected in EA, HS and AA (P(EA) = 1.01 × 10(-54), PHS = 3.68 × 10(-10), P(AA) = 0.03); synonymous rs17849501 was similarly significant. These SNPs were monomorphic in KR. Novel associations were detected with coding variants at rs35937854 in AA (PAA = 1.49 × 10(-9)), and rs13306575 in HS and KR (P(HS) = 7.04 × 10(-7), P(KR) = 3.30 × 10(-3)). In KR, a 3-SNP haplotype was significantly associated (P = 4.20 × 10(-7)), implying that SLE predisposing variants were tagged. Significant SNP-SNP interaction (P = 0.02) was detected between rs13306575 and rs17849502 in HS, and a dramatically increased risk (OR = 6.55) with a risk allele at each locus. Molecular modeling predicts that these non-synonymous mutations could disrupt NADPHO complex assembly. The risk allele of rs17849501, located in a conserved transcriptional regulatory region, increased reporter gene activity, suggesting in vivo enhancer function. Our results not only establish allelic heterogeneity within NCF2 associated with SLE, but also emphasize the utility of multi-ethnic cohorts to identify predisposing variants explaining additional phenotypic variance ('missing heritability') of complex diseases like SLE.

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    Looger Lab
    03/12/14 | Excitatory synaptic inputs to mouse on-off direction-selective retinal ganglion cells lack direction tuning.
    Park SJ, Kim I, Looger LL, Demb JB, Borghuis BG
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2014 Mar 12;34(11):3976-81. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5017-13.2014

    Direction selectivity represents a fundamental visual computation. In mammalian retina, On-Off direction-selective ganglion cells (DSGCs) respond strongly to motion in a preferred direction and weakly to motion in the opposite, null direction. Electrical recordings suggested three direction-selective (DS) synaptic mechanisms: DS GABA release during null-direction motion from starburst amacrine cells (SACs) and DS acetylcholine and glutamate release during preferred direction motion from SACs and bipolar cells. However, evidence for DS acetylcholine and glutamate release has been inconsistent and at least one bipolar cell type that contacts another DSGC (On-type) lacks DS release. Here, whole-cell recordings in mouse retina showed that cholinergic input to On-Off DSGCs lacked DS, whereas the remaining (glutamatergic) input showed apparent DS. Fluorescence measurements with the glutamate biosensor intensity-based glutamate-sensing fluorescent reporter (iGluSnFR) conditionally expressed in On-Off DSGCs showed that glutamate release in both On- and Off-layer dendrites lacked DS, whereas simultaneously recorded excitatory currents showed apparent DS. With GABA-A receptors blocked, both iGluSnFR signals and excitatory currents lacked DS. Our measurements rule out DS release from bipolar cells onto On-Off DSGCs and support a theoretical model suggesting that apparent DS excitation in voltage-clamp recordings results from inadequate voltage control of DSGC dendrites during null-direction inhibition. SAC GABA release is the apparent sole source of DS input onto On-Off DSGCs.

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    10/14/13 | A neuron-based screening platform for optimizing genetically-encoded calcium indicators.
    Wardill TJ, Chen T, Schreiter ER, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Fosque BF, Behnam R, Shields BC, Ramirez M, Kimmel BE, Kerr RA, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    PLoS One. 2013;8:e77728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077728

    Fluorescent protein-based sensors for detecting neuronal activity have been developed largely based on non-neuronal screening systems. However, the dynamics of neuronal state variables (e.g., voltage, calcium, etc.) are typically very rapid compared to those of non-excitable cells. We developed an electrical stimulation and fluorescence imaging platform based on dissociated rat primary neuronal cultures. We describe its use in testing genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs). Efficient neuronal GECI expression was achieved using lentiviruses containing a neuronal-selective gene promoter. Action potentials (APs) and thus neuronal calcium levels were quantitatively controlled by electrical field stimulation, and fluorescence images were recorded. Images were segmented to extract fluorescence signals corresponding to individual GECI-expressing neurons, which improved sensitivity over full-field measurements. We demonstrate the superiority of screening GECIs in neurons compared with solution measurements. Neuronal screening was useful for efficient identification of variants with both improved response kinetics and high signal amplitudes. This platform can be used to screen many types of sensors with cellular resolution under realistic conditions where neuronal state variables are in relevant ranges with respect to timing and amplitude.

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    Jayaraman LabLooger LabSvoboda LabSchreiter LabGENIE
    07/18/13 | Ultrasensitive fluorescent proteins for imaging neuronal activity.
    Chen T, Wardill TJ, Sun Y, Pulvar SR, Renninger SL, Baohan A, Schreiter ER, Kerr RA, Orger MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    Nature. 2013 Jul 18;499:295-300. doi: 10.1038/nature12354

    Fluorescent calcium sensors are widely used to image neural activity. Using structure-based mutagenesis and neuron-based screening, we developed a family of ultrasensitive protein calcium sensors (GCaMP6) that outperformed other sensors in cultured neurons and in zebrafish, flies and mice in vivo. In layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons of the mouse visual cortex, GCaMP6 reliably detected single action potentials in neuronal somata and orientation-tuned synaptic calcium transients in individual dendritic spines. The orientation tuning of structurally persistent spines was largely stable over timescales of weeks. Orientation tuning averaged across spine populations predicted the tuning of their parent cell. Although the somata of GABAergic neurons showed little orientation tuning, their dendrites included highly tuned dendritic segments (5–40-µm long). GCaMP6 sensors thus provide new windows into the organization and dynamics of neural circuits over multiple spatial and temporal scales.

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    Looger LabLeonardo Lab
    07/03/13 | Two-photon imaging of nonlinear glutamate release dynamics at bipolar cell synapses in the mouse retina.
    Borghuis BG, Marvin JS, Looger LL, Demb JB
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2013 Jul 3;33(27):10972-85. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1241-13.2013

    Alpha/Y-type retinal ganglion cells encode visual information with a receptive field composed of nonlinear subunits. This nonlinear subunit structure enhances sensitivity to patterns composed of high spatial frequencies. The Y-cell’s subunits are the presynaptic bipolar cells, but the mechanism for the nonlinearity remains incompletely understood. We investigated the synaptic basis of the subunit nonlinearity by combining whole-cell recording of mouse Y-type ganglion cells with two-photon fluorescence imaging of a glutamate sensor (iGluSnFR) expressed on their dendrites and throughout the inner plexiform layer. A control experiment designed to assess iGluSnFR’s dynamic range showed that fluorescence responses from Y-cell dendrites increased proportionally with simultaneously recorded excitatory current. Spatial resolution was sufficient to readily resolve independent release at intermingled ON and OFF bipolar terminals. iGluSnFR responses at Y-cell dendrites showed strong surround inhibition, reflecting receptive field properties of presynaptic release sites. Responses to spatial patterns located the origin of the Y-cell nonlinearity to the bipolar cell output, after the stage of spatial integration. The underlying mechanism differed between OFF and ON pathways: OFF synapses showed transient release and strong rectification, whereas ON synapses showed relatively sustained release and weak rectification. At ON synapses, the combination of fast release onset with slower release offset explained the nonlinear response of the postsynaptic ganglion cell. Imaging throughout the inner plexiform layer, we found transient, rectified release at the central-most levels, with increasingly sustained release near the borders. By visualizing glutamate release in real time, iGluSnFR provides a powerful tool for characterizing glutamate synapses in intact neural circuits.

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