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131 Publications

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    03/01/15 | The Release 6 reference sequence of the Drosophila melanogaster genome.
    Hoskins RA, Carlson JW, Wan KH, Park S, Mendez I, Galle SE, Booth BW, Pfeiffer BD, George RA, Svirskas R, Krzywinski M, Schein J, Accardo MC, Damia E, Messina G, Mendez-Lago M, de Pablos B, Demakova OV, Andreyeva EN, Boldyreva LV, Marra M, Carvalho AB, Dimitri P, Villasante A, Zhimulev IF, Rubin GM, Karpen GH, Celniker SE
    Genome Research. 2015 Mar;25(3):445-58. doi: 10.1101/gr.185579.114

    Drosophila melanogaster plays an important role in molecular, genetic, and genomic studies of heredity, development, metabolism, behavior, and human disease. The initial reference genome sequence reported more than a decade ago had a profound impact on progress in Drosophila research, and improving the accuracy and completeness of this sequence continues to be important to further progress. We previously described improvement of the 117-Mb sequence in the euchromatic portion of the genome and 21 Mb in the heterochromatic portion, using a whole-genome shotgun assembly, BAC physical mapping, and clone-based finishing. Here, we report an improved reference sequence of the single-copy and middle-repetitive regions of the genome, produced using cytogenetic mapping to mitotic and polytene chromosomes, clone-based finishing and BAC fingerprint verification, ordering of scaffolds by alignment to cDNA sequences, incorporation of other map and sequence data, and validation by whole-genome optical restriction mapping. These data substantially improve the accuracy and completeness of the reference sequence and the order and orientation of sequence scaffolds into chromosome arm assemblies. Representation of the Y chromosome and other heterochromatic regions is particularly improved. The new 143.9-Mb reference sequence, designated Release 6, effectively exhausts clone-based technologies for mapping and sequencing. Highly repeat-rich regions, including large satellite blocks and functional elements such as the ribosomal RNA genes and the centromeres, are largely inaccessible to current sequencing and assembly methods and remain poorly represented. Further significant improvements will require sequencing technologies that do not depend on molecular cloning and that produce very long reads.

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    01/13/15 | Distinct dopamine neurons mediate reward signals for short- and long-term memories.
    Yamagata N, Ichinose T, Aso Y, Placais P, Friedrich AB, Sima RJ, Preat T, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 Jan 13;112(2):578-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1421930112

    Drosophila melanogaster can acquire a stable appetitive olfactory memory when the presentation of a sugar reward and an odor are paired. However, the neuronal mechanisms by which a single training induces long-term memory are poorly understood. Here we show that two distinct subsets of dopamine neurons in the fly brain signal reward for short-term (STM) and long-term memories (LTM). One subset induces memory that decays within several hours, whereas the other induces memory that gradually develops after training. They convey reward signals to spatially segregated synaptic domains of the mushroom body (MB), a potential site for convergence. Furthermore, we identified a single type of dopamine neuron that conveys the reward signal to restricted subdomains of the mushroom body lobes and induces long-term memory. Constant appetitive memory retention after a single training session thus comprises two memory components triggered by distinct dopamine neurons.

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    12/23/14 | Mushroom body output neurons encode valence and guide memory-based action selection in Drosophila.
    Aso Y, Sitaraman D, Ichinose T, Kaun KR, Vogt K, Belliart-Guérin G, Placais P, Robie AA, Yamagata N, Schnaitmann C, Rowell WJ, Johnston RM, Ngo TB, Chen N, Korff W, Nitabach MN, Heberlein U, Preat T, Branson KM, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM
    eLife. 12/2014;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04580

    Animals discriminate stimuli, learn their predictive value and use this knowledge to modify their behavior. In Drosophila, the mushroom body (MB) plays a key role in these processes. Sensory stimuli are sparsely represented by ∼2000 Kenyon cells, which converge onto 34 output neurons (MBONs) of 21 types. We studied the role of MBONs in several associative learning tasks and in sleep regulation, revealing the extent to which information flow is segregated into distinct channels and suggesting possible roles for the multi-layered MBON network. We also show that optogenetic activation of MBONs can, depending on cell type, induce repulsion or attraction in flies. The behavioral effects of MBON perturbation are combinatorial, suggesting that the MBON ensemble collectively represents valence. We propose that local, stimulus-specific dopaminergic modulation selectively alters the balance within the MBON network for those stimuli. Our results suggest that valence encoded by the MBON ensemble biases memory-based action selection.

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    12/23/14 | The neuronal architecture of the mushroom body provides a logic for associative learning.
    Aso Y, Hattori D, Yu Y, Johnston RM, Iyer NA, Ngo T, Dionne H, Abbott L, Axel R, Tanimoto H, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2014 Dec 23;3:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04577

    We identified the neurons comprising the Drosophila mushroom body (MB), an associative center in invertebrate brains, and provide a comprehensive map describing their potential connections. Each of the 21 MB output neuron (MBON) types elaborates segregated dendritic arbors along the parallel axons of ∼2000 Kenyon cells, forming 15 compartments that collectively tile the MB lobes. MBON axons project to five discrete neuropils outside of the MB and three MBON types form a feedforward network in the lobes. Each of the 20 dopaminergic neuron (DAN) types projects axons to one, or at most two, of the MBON compartments. Convergence of DAN axons on compartmentalized Kenyon cell-MBON synapses creates a highly ordered unit that can support learning to impose valence on sensory representations. The elucidation of the complement of neurons of the MB provides a comprehensive anatomical substrate from which one can infer a functional logic of associative olfactory learning and memory.

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    08/19/14 | Shared mushroom body circuits underlie visual and olfactory memories in Drosophila.
    Vogt K, Schnaitmann C, Dylla KV, Knapek S, Aso Y, Rubin GM, Tanimoto H
    eLife. 2014;3:e02395. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02395

    In nature, animals form memories associating reward or punishment with stimuli from different sensory modalities, such as smells and colors. It is unclear, however, how distinct sensory memories are processed in the brain. We established appetitive and aversive visual learning assays for Drosophila that are comparable to the widely used olfactory learning assays. These assays share critical features, such as reinforcing stimuli (sugar reward and electric shock punishment), and allow direct comparison of the cellular requirements for visual and olfactory memories. We found that the same subsets of dopamine neurons drive formation of both sensory memories. Furthermore, distinct yet partially overlapping subsets of mushroom body intrinsic neurons are required for visual and olfactory memories. Thus, our results suggest that distinct sensory memories are processed in a common brain center. Such centralization of related brain functions is an economical design that avoids the repetition of similar circuit motifs.

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    05/21/14 | Wide-field feedback neurons dynamically tune early visual processing.
    Tuthill JC, Nern A, Rubin GM, Reiser MB
    Neuron. 2014 May 21;82(4):887-95. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.04.023

    An important strategy for efficient neural coding is to match the range of cellular responses to the distribution of relevant input signals. However, the structure and relevance of sensory signals depend on behavioral state. Here, we show that behavior modifies neural activity at the earliest stages of fly vision. We describe a class of wide-field neurons that provide feedback to the most peripheral layer of the Drosophila visual system, the lamina. Using in vivo patch-clamp electrophysiology, we found that lamina wide-field neurons respond to low-frequency luminance fluctuations. Recordings in flying flies revealed that the gain and frequency tuning of wide-field neurons change during flight, and that these effects are mimicked by the neuromodulator octopamine. Genetically silencing wide-field neurons increased behavioral responses to slow-motion stimuli. Together, these findings identify a cell type that is gated by behavior to enhance neural coding by subtracting low-frequency signals from the inputs to motion detection circuits.

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    05/05/14 | Direct observation of ON and OFF pathways in the Drosophila visual system.
    Strother JA, Nern A, Reiser MB
    Current Biology. 2014 May 5;24(9):976-83. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.017

    Visual motion perception is critical to many animal behaviors, and flies have emerged as a powerful model system for exploring this fundamental neural computation. Although numerous studies have suggested that fly motion vision is governed by a simple neural circuit [1-3], the implementation of this circuit has remained mysterious for decades. Connectomics and neurogenetics have produced a surge in recent progress, and several studies have shown selectivity for light increments (ON) or decrements (OFF) in key elements associated with this circuit [4-7]. However, related studies have reached disparate conclusions about where this selectivity emerges and whether it plays a major role in motion vision [8-13]. To address these questions, we examined activity in the neuropil thought to be responsible for visual motion detection, the medulla, of Drosophila melanogaster in response to a range of visual stimuli using two-photon calcium imaging. We confirmed that the input neurons of the medulla, the LMCs, are not responsible for light-on and light-off selectivity. We then examined the pan-neural response of medulla neurons and found prominent selectivity for light-on and light-off in layers of the medulla associated with two anatomically derived pathways (L1/L2 associated) [14, 15]. We next examined the activity of prominent interneurons within each pathway (Mi1 and Tm1) and found that these neurons have corresponding selectivity for light-on or light-off. These results provide direct evidence that motion is computed in parallel light-on and light-off pathways, demonstrate that this selectivity emerges in neurons immediately downstream of the LMCs, and specify where crucial elements of motion computation occur.

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    05/01/14 | Cell types and coincident synapses in the ellipsoid body of Drosophila.
    Martín-Peña A, Acebes A, Rodríguez J, Chevalier V, Casas-Tinto S, Triphan T, Strauss R, Ferrús A
    The European Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 May;39(10):1586-601. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12537

    Cellular ultrastructures for signal integration are unknown in any nervous system. The ellipsoid body (EB) of the Drosophila brain is thought to control locomotion upon integration of various modalities of sensory signals with the animal internal status. However, the expected excitatory and inhibitory input convergence that virtually all brain centres exhibit is not yet described in the EB. Based on the EB expression domains of genetic constructs from the choline acetyl transferase (Cha), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) genes, we identified a new set of neurons with the characteristic ring-shaped morphology (R neurons) which are presumably cholinergic, in addition to the existing GABA-expressing neurons. The R1 morphological subtype is represented in the Cha- and TH-expressing classes. In addition, using transmission electron microscopy, we identified a novel type of synapse in the EB, which exhibits the precise array of two independent active zones over the same postsynaptic dendritic domain, that we named 'agora'. This array is compatible with a coincidence detector role, and represents ~8% of all EB synapses in Drosophila. Presumably excitatory R neurons contribute to coincident synapses. Functional silencing of EB neurons by driving genetically tetanus toxin expression either reduces walking speed or alters movement orientation depending on the targeted R neuron subset, thus revealing functional specialisations in the EB for locomotion control.

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    04/01/14 | Making Drosophila lineage-restricted drivers via patterned recombination in neuroblasts.
    Awasaki T, Kao C, Lee Y, Yang C, Huang Y, Pfeiffer BD, Luan H, Jing X, Huang Y, He Y, Schroeder MD, Kuzin A, Brody T, Zugates CT, Odenwald WF, Lee T
    Nature Neuroscience. 2014 Apr;17(4):631-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.3654

    The Drosophila cerebrum originates from about 100 neuroblasts per hemisphere, with each neuroblast producing a characteristic set of neurons. Neurons from a neuroblast are often so diverse that many neuron types remain unexplored. We developed new genetic tools that target neuroblasts and their diverse descendants, increasing our ability to study fly brain structure and development. Common enhancer-based drivers label neurons on the basis of terminal identities rather than origins, which provides limited labeling in the heterogeneous neuronal lineages. We successfully converted conventional drivers that are temporarily expressed in neuroblasts, into drivers expressed in all subsequent neuroblast progeny. One technique involves immortalizing GAL4 expression in neuroblasts and their descendants. Another depends on loss of the GAL4 repressor, GAL80, from neuroblasts during early neurogenesis. Furthermore, we expanded the diversity of MARCM-based reagents and established another site-specific mitotic recombination system. Our transgenic tools can be combined to map individual neurons in specific lineages of various genotypes.

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    Simpson LabRubin Lab
    02/19/14 | A systematic nomenclature for the insect brain.
    Ito K, Shinomiya K, Ito M, Armstrong JD, Boyan G, Hartenstein V, Harzsch S, Heisenberg M, Homberg U, Jenett A, Keshishian H, Restifo LL, Rössler W, Simpson JH, Strausfeld NJ, Strauss R, Vosshall LB
    Neuron. 2014 Feb 19;81:755-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.12.017

    Despite the importance of the insect nervous system for functional and developmental neuroscience, descriptions of insect brains have suffered from a lack of uniform nomenclature. Ambiguous definitions of brain regions and fiber bundles have contributed to the variation of names used to describe the same structure. The lack of clearly determined neuropil boundaries has made it difficult to document precise locations of neuronal projections for connectomics study. To address such issues, a consortium of neurobiologists studying arthropod brains, the Insect Brain Name Working Group, has established the present hierarchical nomenclature system, using the brain of Drosophila melanogaster as the reference framework, while taking the brains of other taxa into careful consideration for maximum consistency and expandability. The following summarizes the consortium’s nomenclature system and highlights examples of existing ambiguities and remedies for them. This nomenclature is intended to serve as a standard of reference for the study of the brain of Drosophila and other insects.

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