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131 Publications

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    03/13/18 | Genetic reagents for making split-GAL4 lines in Drosophila.
    Dionne H, Hibbard KL, Cavallaro A, Kao J, Rubin GM
    Genetics . 2018 March;209(1):31-5. doi: 10.1101/197509

    The ability to reproducibly target expression of transgenes to small, defined subsets of cells is a key experimental tool for understanding many biological processes. The Drosophila nervous system contains thousands of distinct cell types and it has generally not been possible to limit expression to one or a few cell types when using a single segment of genomic DNA as an enhancer to drive expression. Intersectional methods, in which expression of the transgene only occurs where two different enhancers overlap in their expression patterns, can be used to achieve the desired specificity. This report describes a set of over 2,800 transgenic lines for use with the split-GAL4 intersectional method.

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    08/30/17 | A circuit node that integrates convergent input from neuromodulatory and social behavior-promoting neurons to control aggression in Drosophila.
    Watanabe K, Chiu H, Pfeiffer BD, Wong AM, Hoopfer ED, Rubin GM, Anderson DJ
    Neuron. 2017 Aug 30;95(5):1112-1128.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.08.017

    Diffuse neuromodulatory systems such as norepinephrine (NE) control brain-wide states such as arousal, but whether they control complex social behaviors more specifically is not clear. Octopamine (OA), the insect homolog of NE, is known to promote both arousal and aggression. We have performed a systematic, unbiased screen to identify OA receptor-expressing neurons (OARNs) that control aggression in Drosophila. Our results uncover a tiny population of male-specific aSP2 neurons that mediate a specific influence of OA on aggression, independent of any effect on arousal. Unexpectedly, these neurons receive convergent input from OA neurons and P1 neurons, a population of FruM(+) neurons that promotes male courtship behavior. Behavioral epistasis experiments suggest that aSP2 neurons may constitute an integration node at which OAergic neuromodulation can bias the output of P1 neurons to favor aggression over inter-male courtship. These results have potential implications for thinking about the role of related neuromodulatory systems in mammals.

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    07/18/17 | A connectome of a learning and memory center in the adult Drosophila brain.
    Takemura S, Aso Y, Hige T, Wong AM, Lu Z, Xu CS, Rivlin PK, Hess HF, Zhao T, Parag T, Berg S, Huang G, Katz WT, Olbris DJ, Plaza SM, Umayam LA, Aniceto R, Chang L, Lauchie S, et al
    eLife. 2017 Jul 18;6:e26975. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26975

    Understanding memory formation, storage and retrieval requires knowledge of the underlying neuronal circuits. In Drosophila, the mushroom body (MB) is the major site of associative learning. We reconstructed the morphologies and synaptic connections of all 983 neurons within the three functional units, or compartments, that compose the adult MB’s α lobe, using a dataset of isotropic 8-nm voxels collected by focused ion-beam milling scanning electron microscopy. We found that Kenyon cells (KCs), whose sparse activity encodes sensory information, each make multiple en passant synapses to MB output neurons (MBONs) in each compartment. Some MBONs have inputs from all KCs, while others differentially sample sensory modalities. Only six percent of KC>MBON synapses receive a direct synapse from a dopaminergic neuron (DAN). We identified two unanticipated classes of synapses, KC>DAN and DAN>MBON. DAN activation produces a slow depolarization of the MBON in these DAN>MBON synapses and can weaken memory recall.

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    07/13/17 | Mapping the neural substrates of behavior.
    Robie AA, Hirokawa J, Edwards AW, Umayam LA, Lee A, Phillips ML, Card GM, Korff W, Rubin GM, Simpson JH, Reiser MB, Branson KM
    Cell. 2017-07-13;170(2):393-406. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.032

    Assigning behavioral functions to neural structures has long been a central goal in neuroscience and is a necessary first step toward a circuit-level understanding of how the brain generates behavior. Here, we map the neural substrates of locomotion and social behaviors for Drosophila melanogaster using automated machine-vision and machine-learning techniques. From videos of 400,000 flies, we quantified the behavioral effects of activating 2,204 genetically targeted populations of neurons. We combined a novel quantification of anatomy with our behavioral analysis to create brain-behavior correlation maps, which are shared as browsable web pages and interactive software. Based on these maps, we generated hypotheses of regions of the brain causally related to sensory processing, locomotor control, courtship, aggression, and sleep. Our maps directly specify genetic tools to target these regions, which we used to identify a small population of neurons with a role in the control of walking.

    •We developed machine-vision methods to broadly and precisely quantify fly behavior•We measured effects of activating 2,204 genetically targeted neuronal populations•We created whole-brain maps of neural substrates of locomotor and social behaviors•We created resources for exploring our results and enabling further investigation

    Machine-vision analyses of large behavior and neuroanatomy data reveal whole-brain maps of regions associated with numerous complex behaviors.

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    06/12/17 | Neural signatures of dynamic stimulus selection in Drosophila.
    Sun Y, Nern A, Franconville R, Dana H, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS, Hermundstad AM, Jayaraman V
    Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Jun 12;20(8):1104-13. doi: 10.1038/nn.4581

    Many animals orient using visual cues, but how a single cue is selected from among many is poorly understood. Here we show that Drosophila ring neurons—central brain neurons implicated in navigation—display visual stimulus selection. Using in vivo two-color two-photon imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators, we demonstrate that individual ring neurons inherit simple-cell-like receptive fields from their upstream partners. Stimuli in the contralateral visual field suppressed responses to ipsilateral stimuli in both populations. Suppression strength depended on when and where the contralateral stimulus was presented, an effect stronger in ring neurons than in their upstream inputs. This history-dependent effect on the temporal structure of visual responses, which was well modeled by a simple biphasic filter, may determine how visual references are selected for the fly's internal compass. Our approach highlights how two-color calcium imaging can help identify and localize the origins of sensory transformations across synaptically connected neural populations.

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    05/22/17 | Angular velocity integration in a fly heading circuit.
    Turner-Evans D, Wegener S, Rouault H, Franconville R, Wolff T, Seelig JD, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V
    eLife. 2017 May 22;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23496

    Many animals maintain an internal representation of their heading as they move through their surroundings. Such a compass representation was recently discovered in a neural population in the Drosophila melanogaster central complex, a brain region implicated in spatial navigation. Here, we use two-photon calcium imaging and electrophysiology in head-fixed walking flies to identify a different neural population that conjunctively encodes heading and angular velocity, and is excited selectively by turns in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction. We show how these mirror-symmetric turn responses combine with the neurons' connectivity to the compass neurons to create an elegant mechanism for updating the fly's heading representation when the animal turns in darkness. This mechanism, which employs recurrent loops with an angular shift, bears a resemblance to those proposed in theoretical models for rodent head direction cells. Our results provide a striking example of structure matching function for a broadly relevant computation.

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    05/09/17 | Representations of Novelty and Familiarity in a Mushroom Body Compartment.
    Hattori D, Aso Y, Swartz KJ, Rubin GM, Abbott LF, Axel R
    Cell. 2017 May 09;169(5):956-69. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.04.028

    Animals exhibit a behavioral response to novel sensory stimuli about which they have no prior knowledge. We have examined the neural and behavioral correlates of novelty and familiarity in the olfactory system of Drosophila. Novel odors elicit strong activity in output neurons (MBONs) of the α'3 compartment of the mushroom body that is rapidly suppressed upon repeated exposure to the same odor. This transition in neural activity upon familiarization requires odor-evoked activity in the dopaminergic neuron innervating this compartment. Moreover, exposure of a fly to novel odors evokes an alerting response that can also be elicited by optogenetic activation of α'3 MBONs. Silencing these MBONs eliminates the alerting behavior. These data suggest that the α'3 compartment plays a causal role in the behavioral response to novel and familiar stimuli as a consequence of dopamine-mediated plasticity at the Kenyon cell-MBONα'3 synapse.

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    04/22/17 | The comprehensive connectome of a neural substrate for 'ON' motion detection in Drosophila.
    Takemura S, Nern A, Chklovskii DB, Scheffer LK, Rubin GM, Meinertzhagen IA
    eLife. 2017 Apr 22;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.24394

    Analysing computations in neural circuits often uses simplified models because the actual neuronal implementation is not known. For example, a problem in vision, how the eye detects image motion, has long been analysed using Hassenstein-Reichardt (HR) detector or Barlow-Levick (BL) models. These both simulate motion detection well, but the exact neuronal circuits undertaking these tasks remain elusive. We reconstructed a comprehensive connectome of the circuits of Drosophila's motion-sensing T4 cells using a novel EM technique. We uncover complex T4 inputs and reveal that putative excitatory inputs cluster at T4's dendrite shafts, while inhibitory inputs localize to the bases. Consistent with our previous study, we reveal that Mi1 and Tm3 cells provide most synaptic contacts onto T4. We are, however, unable to reproduce the spatial offset between these cells reported previously. Our comprehensive connectome reveals complex circuits that include candidate anatomical substrates for both HR and BL types of motion detectors.

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    04/10/17 | Stem cell-intrinsic, seven-up-triggered temporal factor gradients diversify intermediate neural progenitors.
    Ren Q, Yang C, Liu Z, Sugino K, Mok K, He Y, Ito M, Nern A, Otsuna H, Lee T
    Current Biology : CB. 2017 Apr 10;27(9):1303-13. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.047

    Building a sizable, complex brain requires both cellular expansion and diversification. One mechanism to achieve these goals is production of multiple transiently amplifying intermediate neural progenitors (INPs) from a single neural stem cell. Like mammalian neural stem cells, Drosophila type II neuroblasts utilize INPs to produce neurons and glia. Within a given lineage, the consecutively born INPs produce morphologically distinct progeny, presumably due to differential inheritance of temporal factors. To uncover the underlying temporal fating mechanisms, we profiled type II neuroblasts' transcriptome across time. Our results reveal opposing temporal gradients of Imp and Syp RNA-binding proteins (descending and ascending, respectively). Maintaining high Imp throughout serial INP production expands the number of neurons and glia with early temporal fate at the expense of cells with late fate. Conversely, precocious upregulation of Syp reduces the number of cells with early fate. Furthermore, we reveal that the transcription factor Seven-up initiates progression of the Imp/Syp gradients. Interestingly, neuroblasts that maintain initial Imp/Syp levels can still yield progeny with a small range of early fates. We therefore propose that the Seven-up-initiated Imp/Syp gradients create coarse temporal windows within type II neuroblasts to pattern INPs, which subsequently undergo fine-tuned subtemporal patterning.

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    Rubin LabReiser LabFly Functional Connectome
    04/05/17 | The emergence of directional selectivity in the visual motion pathway of Drosophila.
    Strother JA, Wu S, Wong AM, Nern A, Rogers EM, Le JQ, Rubin GM, Reiser MB
    Neuron. 2017 Apr 05;94(1):168-182.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.010

    The perception of visual motion is critical for animal navigation, and flies are a prominent model system for exploring this neural computation. In Drosophila, the T4 cells of the medulla are directionally selective and necessary for ON motion behavioral responses. To examine the emergence of directional selectivity, we developed genetic driver lines for the neuron types with the most synapses onto T4 cells. Using calcium imaging, we found that these neuron types are not directionally selective and that selectivity arises in the T4 dendrites. By silencing each input neuron type, we identified which neurons are necessary for T4 directional selectivity and ON motion behavioral responses. We then determined the sign of the connections between these neurons and T4 cells using neuronal photoactivation. Our results indicate a computational architecture for motion detection that is a hybrid of classic theoretical models.

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