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130 Publications

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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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    Svoboda Lab
    07/02/13 | Aβ induces astrocytic glutamate release, extrasynaptic NMDA receptor activation, and synaptic loss.
    Talantova M, Sanz-Blasco S, Zhang X, Xia P, Akhtar MW, Okamoto S, Dziewczapolski G, Nakamura T, Cao G, Pratt AE, Kang Y, Tu S, Molokanova E, McKercher SR, Hires SA, Sason H, Stouffer DG, Buczynski MW, Solomon JP, Michael S, Powers ET, Kelly JW, Roberts A, Tong G, Fang-Newmeyer T, Parker J, Holland EA, Zhang D, Nakanishi N, Chen HV, Wolosker H, Wang Y, Parsons LH, Ambasudhan R, Masliah E, Heinemann SF, Piña-Crespo JC, Lipton SA
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Jul 2;110(27):E2518-27. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1306832110

    Synaptic loss is the cardinal feature linking neuropathology to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the mechanism of synaptic damage remains incompletely understood. Here, using FRET-based glutamate sensor imaging, we show that amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) engages α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to induce release of astrocytic glutamate, which in turn activates extrasynaptic NMDA receptors (eNMDARs) on neurons. In hippocampal autapses, this eNMDAR activity is followed by reduction in evoked and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs). Decreased mEPSC frequency may reflect early synaptic injury because of concurrent eNMDAR-mediated NO production, tau phosphorylation, and caspase-3 activation, each of which is implicated in spine loss. In hippocampal slices, oligomeric Aβ induces eNMDAR-mediated synaptic depression. In AD-transgenic mice compared with wild type, whole-cell recordings revealed excessive tonic eNMDAR activity accompanied by eNMDAR-sensitive loss of mEPSCs. Importantly, the improved NMDAR antagonist NitroMemantine, which selectively inhibits extrasynaptic over physiological synaptic NMDAR activity, protects synapses from Aβ-induced damage both in vitro and in vivo.

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    Svoboda Lab
    06/02/13 | Neural coding during active somatosensation revealed using illusory touch.
    O’Connor DH, Hires SA, Guo ZV, Li N, Yu J, Sun Q, Huber D, Svoboda K
    Nature Neuroscience. 2013 Jun 2;16(7):958-65. doi: 10.1038/nn.3419

    Active sensation requires the convergence of external stimuli with representations of body movements. We used mouse behavior, electrophysiology and optogenetics to dissect the temporal interactions among whisker movement, neural activity and sensation of touch. We photostimulated layer 4 activity in single barrels in a closed loop with whisking. Mimicking touch-related neural activity caused illusory perception of an object at a particular location, but scrambling the timing of the spikes over one whisking cycle (tens of milliseconds) did not abolish the illusion, indicating that knowledge of instantaneous whisker position is unnecessary for discriminating object locations. The illusions were induced only during bouts of directed whisking, when mice expected touch, and in the relevant barrel. Reducing activity biased behavior, consistent with a spike count code for object detection at a particular location. Our results show that mice integrate coding of touch with movement over timescales of a whisking bout to produce perception of active touch.

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    Svoboda Lab
    04/17/13 | The mechanical variables underlying object localization along the axis of the whisker.
    Pammer L, O’Connor DH, Hires SA, Clack NG, Huber D, Myers EW, Svoboda K
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Apr 17;33(16):6726-41. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4316-12.2013

    Rodents move their whiskers to locate objects in space. Here we used psychophysical methods to show that head-fixed mice can localize objects along the axis of a single whisker, the radial dimension, with one-millimeter precision. High-speed videography allowed us to estimate the forces and bending moments at the base of the whisker, which underlie radial distance measurement. Mice judged radial object location based on multiple touches. Both the number of touches (1-17) and the forces exerted by the pole on the whisker (up to 573 μN; typical peak amplitude, 100 μN) varied greatly across trials. We manipulated the bending moment and lateral force pressing the whisker against the sides of the follicle and the axial force pushing the whisker into the follicle by varying the compliance of the object during behavior. The behavioral responses suggest that mice use multiple variables (bending moment, axial force, lateral force) to extract radial object localization. Characterization of whisker mechanics revealed that whisker bending stiffness decreases gradually with distance from the face over five orders of magnitude. As a result, the relative amplitudes of different stress variables change dramatically with radial object distance. Our data suggest that mice use distance-dependent whisker mechanics to estimate radial object location using an algorithm that does not rely on precise control of whisking, is robust to variability in whisker forces, and is independent of object compliance and object movement. More generally, our data imply that mice can measure the amplitudes of forces in the sensory follicles for tactile sensation.

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    Looger LabSvoboda LabLeonardo LabSchreiter LabGENIE
    02/01/13 | An optimized fluorescent probe for visualizing glutamate neurotransmission.
    Marvin JS, Borghuis BG, Tian L, Cichon J, Harnett MT, Akerboom J, Gordus A, Renninger SL, Chen T, Bargmann CI, Orger MB, Schreiter ER, Demb JB, Gan W, Hires SA, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2013 Feb;10:162-70. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2333

    We describe an intensity-based glutamate-sensing fluorescent reporter (iGluSnFR) with signal-to-noise ratio and kinetics appropriate for in vivo imaging. We engineered iGluSnFR in vitro to maximize its fluorescence change, and we validated its utility for visualizing glutamate release by neurons and astrocytes in increasingly intact neurological systems. In hippocampal culture, iGluSnFR detected single field stimulus-evoked glutamate release events. In pyramidal neurons in acute brain slices, glutamate uncaging at single spines showed that iGluSnFR responds robustly and specifically to glutamate in situ, and responses correlate with voltage changes. In mouse retina, iGluSnFR-expressing neurons showed intact light-evoked excitatory currents, and the sensor revealed tonic glutamate signaling in response to light stimuli. In worms, glutamate signals preceded and predicted postsynaptic calcium transients. In zebrafish, iGluSnFR revealed spatial organization of direction-selective synaptic activity in the optic tectum. Finally, in mouse forelimb motor cortex, iGluSnFR expression in layer V pyramidal neurons revealed task-dependent single-spine activity during running.

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    Svoboda Lab
    01/09/13 | Organization of cortical and thalamic input to pyramidal neurons in mouse motor cortex.
    Hooks BM, Mao T, Gutnisky DA, Yamawaki N, Svoboda K, Shepherd GM
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Jan 9;33(2):748-60. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4338-12.2013

    Determining how long-range synaptic inputs engage pyramidal neurons in primary motor cortex (M1) is important for understanding circuit mechanisms involved in regulating movement. We used channelrhodopsin-2-assisted circuit mapping to characterize the long-range excitatory synaptic connections made by multiple cortical and thalamic areas onto pyramidal neurons in mouse vibrissal motor cortex (vM1). Each projection innervated vM1 pyramidal neurons with a unique laminar profile. Collectively, the profiles for different sources of input partially overlapped and spanned all cortical layers. Specifically, orbital cortex (OC) inputs primarily targeted neurons in L6. Secondary motor cortex (M2) inputs excited neurons mainly in L5B, including pyramidal tract neurons. In contrast, thalamocortical inputs from anterior motor-related thalamic regions, including VA/VL (ventral anterior thalamic nucleus/ventrolateral thalamic nucleus), targeted neurons in L2/3 through L5B, but avoided L6. Inputs from posterior sensory-related thalamic areas, including POm (posterior thalamic nuclear group), targeted neurons only in the upper layers (L2/3 and L5A), similar to inputs from somatosensory (barrel) cortex. Our results show that long-range excitatory inputs target vM1 pyramidal neurons in a layer-specific manner. Inputs from sensory-related cortical and thalamic areas preferentially target the upper-layer pyramidal neurons in vM1. In contrast, inputs from OC and M2, areas associated with volitional and cognitive aspects of movements, bypass local circuitry and have direct monosynaptic access to neurons projecting to brainstem and thalamus.

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    Svoboda LabMagee Lab
    12/13/12 | Nonlinear dendritic integration of sensory and motor input during an active sensing task.
    Xu N, Harnett MT, Williams SR, Huber D, O’Connor DH, Svoboda K, Magee JC
    Nature. 2012 Dec 13;492:247-51. doi: 10.1038/nature11601

    Active dendrites provide neurons with powerful processing capabilities. However, little is known about the role of neuronal dendrites in behaviourally related circuit computations. Here we report that a novel global dendritic nonlinearity is involved in the integration of sensory and motor information within layer 5 pyramidal neurons during an active sensing behaviour. Layer 5 pyramidal neurons possess elaborate dendritic arborizations that receive functionally distinct inputs, each targeted to spatially separate regions. At the cellular level, coincident input from these segregated pathways initiates regenerative dendritic electrical events that produce bursts of action potential output and circuits featuring this powerful dendritic nonlinearity can implement computations based on input correlation. To examine this in vivo we recorded dendritic activity in layer 5 pyramidal neurons in the barrel cortex using two-photon calcium imaging in mice performing an object-localization task. Large-amplitude, global calcium signals were observed throughout the apical tuft dendrites when active touch occurred at particular object locations or whisker angles. Such global calcium signals are produced by dendritic plateau potentials that require both vibrissal sensory input and primary motor cortex activity. These data provide direct evidence of nonlinear dendritic processing of correlated sensory and motor information in the mammalian neocortex during active sensation.

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    10/03/12 | Optimization of a GCaMP calcium indicator for neural activity imaging.
    Akerboom J, Chen T, Wardill TJ, Marvin JS, Mutlu S, Carreras Caldero N, Esposti F, Borghuis BG, Sun XR, Gordus A, Orger MB, Portugues R, Engert F, Macklin JJ, Filosa A, Aggarwal A, Kerr R, Takagi R, Kracun S, Shigetomi E, Khakh BS, Baier H, Lagnado L, Wang SS, Bargmann C, Kimmel B, Jayaraman V, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Schreiter ER, Looger LL
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2012 Oct 3;32:13819-40. doi: 10.1523/​JNEUROSCI.2601-12.2012

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) are powerful tools for systems neuroscience. Recent efforts in protein engineering have significantly increased the performance of GECIs. The state-of-the art single-wavelength GECI, GCaMP3, has been deployed in a number of model organisms and can reliably detect three or more action potentials in short bursts in several systems in vivo . Through protein structure determination, targeted mutagenesis, high-throughput screening, and a battery of in vitro assays, we have increased the dynamic range of GCaMP3 by severalfold, creating a family of “GCaMP5” sensors. We tested GCaMP5s in several systems: cultured neurons and astrocytes, mouse retina, and in vivo in Caenorhabditis chemosensory neurons, Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction and adult antennal lobe, zebrafish retina and tectum, and mouse visual cortex. Signal-to-noise ratio was improved by at least 2- to 3-fold. In the visual cortex, two GCaMP5 variants detected twice as many visual stimulus-responsive cells as GCaMP3. By combining in vivo imaging with electrophysiology we show that GCaMP5 fluorescence provides a more reliable measure of neuronal activity than its predecessor GCaMP3.GCaMP5allows more sensitive detection of neural activity in vivo andmayfind widespread applications for cellular imaging in general.

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    Looger LabSvoboda Lab
    09/13/12 | Activity in motor-sensory projections reveals distributed coding in somatosensation.
    Petreanu L, Gutnisky DA, Huber D, Xu N, O’Connor DH, Tian L, Looger L, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2012 Sep 13;489:299-303. doi: 10.1038/nature11321

    Cortical-feedback projections to primary sensory areas terminate most heavily in layer 1 (L1) of the neocortex, where they make synapses with tuft dendrites of pyramidal neurons. L1 input is thought to provide ‘contextual’ information, but the signals transmitted by L1 feedback remain uncharacterized. In the rodent somatosensory system, the spatially diffuse feedback projection from vibrissal motor cortex (vM1) to vibrissal somatosensory cortex (vS1, also known as the barrel cortex) may allow whisker touch to be interpreted in the context of whisker position to compute object location. When mice palpate objects with their whiskers to localize object features, whisker touch excites vS1 and later vM1 in a somatotopic manner. Here we use axonal calcium imaging to track activity in vM1–>vS1 afferents in L1 of the barrel cortex while mice performed whisker-dependent object localization. Spatially intermingled individual axons represent whisker movements, touch and other behavioural features. In a subpopulation of axons, activity depends on object location and persists for seconds after touch. Neurons in the barrel cortex thus have information to integrate movements and touches of multiple whiskers over time, key components of object identification and navigation by active touch.

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    Svoboda Lab
    07/01/12 | Automated tracking of whiskers in videos of head fixed rodents.
    Clack NG, O’Connor DH, Huber D, Petreanu L, Hires A, Peron S, Svoboda K, Myers EW
    PLoS Computational Biology. 2012 Jul;8:e1002591. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002591

    We have developed software for fully automated tracking of vibrissae (whiskers) in high-speed videos (>500 Hz) of head-fixed, behaving rodents trimmed to a single row of whiskers. Performance was assessed against a manually curated dataset consisting of 1.32 million video frames comprising 4.5 million whisker traces. The current implementation detects whiskers with a recall of 99.998% and identifies individual whiskers with 99.997% accuracy. The average processing rate for these images was 8 Mpx/s/cpu (2.6 GHz Intel Core2, 2 GB RAM). This translates to 35 processed frames per second for a 640 px×352 px video of 4 whiskers. The speed and accuracy achieved enables quantitative behavioral studies where the analysis of millions of video frames is required. We used the software to analyze the evolving whisking strategies as mice learned a whisker-based detection task over the course of 6 days (8148 trials, 25 million frames) and measure the forces at the sensory follicle that most underlie haptic perception.

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