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53 Publications

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    Sternson Lab
    11/02/22 | Characterization of Ultrapotent Chemogenetic Ligands for Research Applications in Nonhuman Primates.
    Raper J, Eldridge MA, Sternson SM, Shim JY, Fomani GP, Richmond BJ, Wichmann T, Galvan A
    ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2022 Nov 02;13(21):3118-3125. doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00525

    Chemogenetics is a technique for obtaining selective pharmacological control over a cell population by expressing an engineered receptor that is selectively activated by an exogenously administered ligand. A promising approach for neuronal modulation involves the use of "Pharmacologically Selective Actuator Modules" (PSAMs); these chemogenetic receptors are selectively activated by ultrapotent "Pharmacologically Selective Effector Molecules" (uPSEMs). To extend the use of PSAM/PSEMs to studies in nonhuman primates, it is necessary to thoroughly characterize the efficacy and safety of these tools. We describe the time course and brain penetrance in rhesus monkeys of two compounds with promising binding specificity and efficacy profiles in studies, uPSEM792 and uPSEM817, after systemic administration. Rhesus monkeys received subcutaneous (s.c.) or intravenous (i.v.) administration of uPSEM817 (0.064 mg/kg) or uPSEM792 (0.87 mg/kg), and plasma and cerebrospinal fluid samples were collected over 48 h. Both compounds exhibited good brain penetrance, relatively slow washout, and negligible conversion to potential metabolites─varenicline or hydroxyvarenicline. In addition, we found that neither of these uPSEMs significantly altered the heart rate or sleep. Our results indicate that both compounds are suitable candidates for neuroscience studies using PSAMs in nonhuman primates.

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    10/22/22 | Multimodal mapping of cell types and projections in the central nucleus of the amygdala
    Yuhan Wang , Sabine Krabbe , Mark Eddison , Fredrick E. Henry , Greg Fleishman , Andrew L. Lemire , Lihua Wang , Wyatt Korff , Paul W. Tillberg , Andreas Lüthi , Scott M. Sternson
    bioRxiv. 2022 Oct 22:. doi: 10.1101/2022.10.19.512845

    The central nucleus of the amygdala (CEA) is a brain region that integrates external and internal sensory information and executes innate and adaptive behaviors through distinct output pathways. Despite its complex functions, the diversity of molecularly defined neuronal types in the CEA and their contributions to major axonal projection targets have not been examined systematically. Here, we performed single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-Seq) to classify molecularly defined cell types in the CEA and identified marker-genes to map the location of these neuronal types using expansion assisted iterative fluorescence in situ hybridization (EASI-FISH). We developed new methods to integrate EASI-FISH with 5-plex retrograde axonal labeling to determine the spatial, morphological, and connectivity properties of ∼30,000 molecularly defined CEA neurons. Our study revealed spatio-molecular organization of the CEA, with medial and lateral CEA associated with distinct cell families. We also found a long-range axon projection network from the CEA, where target regions receive inputs from multiple molecularly defined cell types. Axon collateralization was found primarily among projections to hindbrain targets, which are distinct from forebrain projections. This resource reports marker-gene combinations for molecularly defined cell types and axon-projection types, which will be useful for selective interrogation of these neuronal populations to study their contributions to the diverse functions of the CEA.

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    Sternson Lab
    06/01/22 | Development of an adrenocortical cell model of calcium signaling modulation to decipher the molecular mechanisms responsible for primary aldosteronism
    BakhtaFedlaoui , Teresa Cosentino , Zeina R. Al Sayed , Isabelle Giscos-Douriez , Fabio L. Fernandes-Rosa , Jean-SébastienHulot , Chris Magnus , Scott M. Sternson , Maria Christina Zennaro , Sheerazed Boulkroun
    Archives of Cardiovascular Diseases Supplements. 2022 Jun 01;14(2):160. doi: 10.1016/j.acvdsp.2022.04.153

    Primary aldosteronism (PA) is the most frequent form of secondary hypertension. The identification of germline or somatic mutations in different genes coding for ion channels and defines PA as a channelopathy. These mutations promote activation of calcium signaling, the main trigger for aldosterone biosynthesis.

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    Sternson Lab
    01/07/22 | Characterization of ultrapotent chemogenetic ligands for research applications in non-human primates
    Jessica Raper , Mark A. G. Eldridge , Scott. M. Sternson , Jalene Y. Shim , Grace P. Fomani , Barry J. Richmond , Thomas Wichmann , Adriana Galvan
    bioRxiv. 2022 Jan 07:. doi: 10.1101/2022.01.06.475241

    Chemogenetics is a technique for obtaining selective pharmacological control over a cell population by expressing an engineered receptor that is selectively activated by an exogenously administered ligand. A promising approach for neuronal modulation involves the use of “Pharmacologically Selective Actuator Modules” (PSAMs); these chemogenetic receptors are selectively activated by ultrapotent “Pharmacologically Selective Effector Molecules” (uPSEMs). To extend the use of PSAM/PSEMs to studies in nonhuman primates it is necessary to thoroughly characterize the efficacy and safety of these tools. We describe the time course and brain penetrance in rhesus monkeys of two compounds with promising binding specificity and efficacy profiles in in vitro studies, uPSEM792 and uPSEM817, after systemic administration. Rhesus macaques received subcutaneous (s.c.) or intravenous (i.v.) administration of uPSEM817(0.064 mg/kg) or uPSEM792 (0.87 mg/kg) and plasma and CSF samples were collected over the course of 48 hours. Both compounds exhibited good brain penetrance, relatively slow washout and negligible conversion to potential metabolites - varenicline or hydroxyvarenicline. In addition, we found that neither of these uPSEMs significantly altered heart rate or sleep. Our results indicate that both compounds are suitable candidates for neuroscience studies using PSAMs in nonhuman primates.

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    Svoboda LabSaalfeld LabSternson LabTillberg Lab
    12/01/21 | EASI-FISH for thick tissue defines lateral hypothalamus spatio-molecular organization.
    Wang Y, Eddison M, Fleishman G, Weigert M, Xu S, Wang T, Rokicki K, Goina C, Henry FE, Lemire AL, Schmidt U, Yang H, Svoboda K, Myers EW, Saalfeld S, Korff W, Sternson SM, Tillberg PW
    Cell. 2021 Dec 01;184(26):6361. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.11.024

    Determining the spatial organization and morphological characteristics of molecularly defined cell types is a major bottleneck for characterizing the architecture underpinning brain function. We developed Expansion-Assisted Iterative Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (EASI-FISH) to survey gene expression in brain tissue, as well as a turnkey computational pipeline to rapidly process large EASI-FISH image datasets. EASI-FISH was optimized for thick brain sections (300 μm) to facilitate reconstruction of spatio-molecular domains that generalize across brains. Using the EASI-FISH pipeline, we investigated the spatial distribution of dozens of molecularly defined cell types in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), a brain region with poorly defined anatomical organization. Mapping cell types in the LHA revealed nine spatially and molecularly defined subregions. EASI-FISH also facilitates iterative reanalysis of scRNA-seq datasets to determine marker-genes that further dissociated spatial and morphological heterogeneity. The EASI-FISH pipeline democratizes mapping molecularly defined cell types, enabling discoveries about brain organization.

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    Pachitariu LabSternson Lab
    07/01/21 | Hunger or thirst state uncertainty is resolved by outcome evaluation in medial prefrontal cortex to guide decision-making.
    Eiselt A, Chen S, Chen J, Arnold J, Kim T, Pachitariu M, Sternson SM
    Nature Neuroscience. 2021 Jul 01;24(7):907-912. doi: 10.1038/s41593-021-00850-4

    Physiological need states direct decision-making toward re-establishing homeostasis. Using a two-alternative forced choice task for mice that models elements of human decisions, we found that varying hunger and thirst states caused need-inappropriate choices, such as food seeking when thirsty. These results show limits on interoceptive knowledge of hunger and thirst states to guide decision-making. Instead, need states were identified after food and water consumption by outcome evaluation, which depended on the medial prefrontal cortex.

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    03/08/21 | Expansion-Assisted Iterative-FISH defines lateral hypothalamus spatio-molecular organization
    Yuhan Wang , Mark Eddison , Greg Fleishman , Martin Weigert , Shengjin Xu , Frederick E. Henry , Tim Wang , Andrew L. Lemire , Uwe Schmidt , Hui Yang , Konrad Rokicki , Cristian Goina , Karel Svoboda , Eugene W. Myers , Stephan Saalfeld , Wyatt Korff , Scott M. Sternson , Paul W. Tillberg
    bioRxiv. 2021 Mar 8:. doi: 10.1101/2021.03.08.434304

    Determining the spatial organization and morphological characteristics of molecularly defined cell types is a major bottleneck for characterizing the architecture underpinning brain function. We developed Expansion-Assisted Iterative Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (EASI-FISH) to survey gene expression in brain tissue, as well as a turnkey computational pipeline to rapidly process large EASI-FISH image datasets. EASI-FISH was optimized for thick brain sections (300 µm) to facilitate reconstruction of spatio-molecular domains that generalize across brains. Using the EASI-FISH pipeline, we investigated the spatial distribution of dozens of molecularly defined cell types in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), a brain region with poorly defined anatomical organization. Mapping cell types in the LHA revealed nine novel spatially and molecularly defined subregions. EASI-FISH also facilitates iterative re-analysis of scRNA-Seq datasets to determine marker-genes that further dissociated spatial and morphological heterogeneity. The EASI-FISH pipeline democratizes mapping molecularly defined cell types, enabling discoveries about brain organization.

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    Turaga LabSternson Lab
    10/16/20 | Behavioral state coding by molecularly defined paraventricular hypothalamic cell type ensembles.
    Xu S, Yang H, Menon V, Lemire AL, Wang L, Henry FE, Turaga SC, Sternson SM
    Science. 2020 Oct 16;370(6514):. doi: 10.1126/science.abb2494

    Brains encode behaviors using neurons amenable to systematic classification by gene expression. The contribution of molecular identity to neural coding is not understood because of the challenges involved with measuring neural dynamics and molecular information from the same cells. We developed CaRMA (calcium and RNA multiplexed activity) imaging based on recording in vivo single-neuron calcium dynamics followed by gene expression analysis. We simultaneously monitored activity in hundreds of neurons in mouse paraventricular hypothalamus (PVH). Combinations of cell-type marker genes had predictive power for neuronal responses across 11 behavioral states. The PVH uses combinatorial assemblies of molecularly defined neuron populations for grouped-ensemble coding of survival behaviors. The neuropeptide receptor neuropeptide Y receptor type 1 (Npy1r) amalgamated multiple cell types with similar responses. Our results show that molecularly defined neurons are important processing units for brain function.

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    Sternson Lab
    09/17/20 | Exploring internal state-coding across the rodent brain.
    Sternson SM
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2020 Sep 17;65:20-26. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2020.08.009

    The influence of peripheral physiology on goal-directed behavior involves specialized interoceptive sensory neurons that signal internal state to the brain. Here, we review recent progress to examine the impact of these specialized cell types on neurons and circuits throughout the central nervous system. These new approaches are important for understanding how the needs of the body interact and guide goal-directed behaviors.

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    Hermundstad LabSternson Lab
    09/17/20 | Hindbrain double-negative feedback mediates palatability-guided food and water consumption.
    Gong R, Xu S, Hermundstad A, Yu Y, Sternson SM
    Cell. 2020 Sep 17;182(6):1589-1605. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.07.031

    Hunger and thirst have distinct goals but control similar ingestive behaviors, and little is known about neural processes that are shared between these behavioral states. We identify glutamatergic neurons in the peri-locus coeruleus (periLC neurons) as a polysynaptic convergence node from separate energy-sensitive and hydration-sensitive cell populations. We develop methods for stable hindbrain calcium imaging in free-moving mice, which show that periLC neurons are tuned to ingestive behaviors and respond similarly to food or water consumption. PeriLC neurons are scalably inhibited by palatability and homeostatic need during consumption. Inhibition of periLC neurons is rewarding and increases consumption by enhancing palatability and prolonging ingestion duration. These properties comprise a double-negative feedback relationship that sustains food or water consumption without affecting food- or water-seeking. PeriLC neurons are a hub between hunger and thirst that specifically controls motivation for food and water ingestion, which is a factor that contributes to hedonic overeating and obesity.

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