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25 Publications

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    01/24/23 | Hierarchical architecture of dopaminergic circuits enables second-order conditioning in Drosophila
    Daichi Yamada , Daniel Bushey , Li Feng , Karen Hibbard , Megan Sammons , Jan Funke , Ashok Litwin-Kumar , Toshihide Hige , Yoshinori Aso
    eLife. 2023 Jan 24:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.79042

    Dopaminergic neurons with distinct projection patterns and physiological properties compose memory subsystems in a brain. However, it is poorly understood whether or how they interact during complex learning. Here, we identify a feedforward circuit formed between dopamine subsystems and show that it is essential for second-order conditioning, an ethologically important form of higher-order associative learning. The Drosophila mushroom body comprises a series of dopaminergic compartments, each of which exhibits distinct memory dynamics. We find that a slow and stable memory compartment can serve as an effective “teacher” by instructing other faster and transient memory compartments via a single key interneuron, which we identify by connectome analysis and neurotransmitter prediction. This excitatory interneuron acquires enhanced response to reward-predicting odor after first-order conditioning and, upon activation, evokes dopamine release in the “student” compartments. These hierarchical connections between dopamine subsystems explain distinct properties of first- and second-order memory long known by behavioral psychologists.

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    01/01/23 | Automated reconstruction of whole-embryo cell lineages by learning from sparse annotations.
    Malin-Mayor C, Hirsch P, Guignard L, McDole K, Wan Y, Lemon WC, Kainmueller D, Keller PJ, Preibisch S, Funke J
    Nature Biotechnology. 2023 Jan 01;41(1):44-49. doi: 10.1038/s41587-022-01427-7

    We present a method to automatically identify and track nuclei in time-lapse microscopy recordings of entire developing embryos. The method combines deep learning and global optimization. On a mouse dataset, it reconstructs 75.8% of cell lineages spanning 1 h, as compared to 31.8% for the competing method. Our approach improves understanding of where and when cell fate decisions are made in developing embryos, tissues, and organs.

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    01/01/23 | Structured cerebellar connectivity supports resilient pattern separation.
    Nguyen TM, Thomas LA, Rhoades JL, Ricchi I, Yuan XC, Sheridan A, Hildebrand DG, Funke J, Regehr WG, Lee WA
    Nature. 2023 Jan 01;613(7944):543-549. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05471-w

    The cerebellum is thought to help detect and correct errors between intended and executed commands and is critical for social behaviours, cognition and emotion. Computations for motor control must be performed quickly to correct errors in real time and should be sensitive to small differences between patterns for fine error correction while being resilient to noise. Influential theories of cerebellar information processing have largely assumed random network connectivity, which increases the encoding capacity of the network's first layer. However, maximizing encoding capacity reduces the resilience to noise. To understand how neuronal circuits address this fundamental trade-off, we mapped the feedforward connectivity in the mouse cerebellar cortex using automated large-scale transmission electron microscopy and convolutional neural network-based image segmentation. We found that both the input and output layers of the circuit exhibit redundant and selective connectivity motifs, which contrast with prevailing models. Numerical simulations suggest that these redundant, non-random connectivity motifs increase the resilience to noise at a negligible cost to the overall encoding capacity. This work reveals how neuronal network structure can support a trade-off between encoding capacity and redundancy, unveiling principles of biological network architecture with implications for the design of artificial neural networks.

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    12/30/22 | Local shape descriptors for neuron segmentation.
    Sheridan A, Nguyen TM, Deb D, Lee WA, Saalfeld S, Turaga SC, Manor U, Funke J
    Nature Methods. 2022 Dec 30:. doi: 10.1038/s41592-022-01711-z

    We present an auxiliary learning task for the problem of neuron segmentation in electron microscopy volumes. The auxiliary task consists of the prediction of local shape descriptors (LSDs), which we combine with conventional voxel-wise direct neighbor affinities for neuron boundary detection. The shape descriptors capture local statistics about the neuron to be segmented, such as diameter, elongation, and direction. On a study comparing several existing methods across various specimen, imaging techniques, and resolutions, auxiliary learning of LSDs consistently increases segmentation accuracy of affinity-based methods over a range of metrics. Furthermore, the addition of LSDs promotes affinity-based segmentation methods to be on par with the current state of the art for neuron segmentation (flood-filling networks), while being two orders of magnitudes more efficient-a critical requirement for the processing of future petabyte-sized datasets.

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    09/22/22 | Tracking by Weakly-Supervised Learning and Graph Optimization for Whole-Embryo C. elegans lineages
    Wang L, Dou Q, Fletcher PT, Speidel S, Li S
    International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 2022 Sep 16:. doi: 10.1007/978-3-031-16440-8

    Tracking all nuclei of an embryo in noisy and dense fluorescence microscopy data is a challenging task. We build upon a recent method for nuclei tracking that combines weakly-supervised learning from a small set of nuclei center point annotations with an integer linear program (ILP) for optimal cell lineage extraction. Our work specifically addresses the following challenging properties of C. elegans embryo recordings: (1) Many cell divisions as compared to benchmark recordings of other organisms, and (2) the presence of polar bodies that are easily mistaken as cell nuclei. To cope with (1), we devise and incorporate a learnt cell division detector. To cope with (2), we employ a learnt polar body detector. We further propose automated ILP weights tuning via a structured SVM, alleviating the need for tedious manual set-up of a respective grid search.

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    09/05/22 | Automated reconstruction of whole-embryo cell lineages by learning from sparse annotations.
    Malin-Mayor C, Hirsch P, Guignard L, McDole K, Wan Y, Lemon WC, Kainmueller D, Keller PJ, Preibisch S, Funke J
    Nat Biotechnology. 2022 Sep 05:. doi: 10.1038/s41587-022-01427-7

    We present a method to automatically identify and track nuclei in time-lapse microscopy recordings of entire developing embryos. The method combines deep learning and global optimization. On a mouse dataset, it reconstructs 75.8% of cell lineages spanning 1 h, as compared to 31.8% for the competing method. Our approach improves understanding of where and when cell fate decisions are made in developing embryos, tissues, and organs.

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    08/23/22 | Transverse endoplasmic reticulum expansion in hereditary spastic paraplegia corticospinal axons.
    Zhu P, Hung H, Batchenkova N, Nixon-Abell J, Henderson J, Zheng P, Renvoisé B, Pang S, Xu CS, Saalfeld S, Funke J, Xie Y, Svara F, Hess HF, Blackstone C
    Human Molecular Genetics. 2022 Aug 23;31(16):2779-2795. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddac072

    Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) comprise a large group of inherited neurologic disorders affecting the longest corticospinal axons (SPG1-86 plus others), with shared manifestations of lower extremity spasticity and gait impairment. Common autosomal dominant HSPs are caused by mutations in genes encoding the microtubule-severing ATPase spastin (SPAST; SPG4), the membrane-bound GTPase atlastin-1 (ATL1; SPG3A) and the reticulon-like, microtubule-binding protein REEP1 (REEP1; SPG31). These proteins bind one another and function in shaping the tubular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) network. Typically, mouse models of HSPs have mild, later onset phenotypes, possibly reflecting far shorter lengths of their corticospinal axons relative to humans. Here, we have generated a robust, double mutant mouse model of HSP in which atlastin-1 is genetically modified with a K80A knock-in (KI) missense change that abolishes its GTPase activity, whereas its binding partner Reep1 is knocked out. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice exhibit early onset and rapidly progressive declines in several motor function tests. Also, ER in mutant corticospinal axons dramatically expands transversely and periodically in a mutation dosage-dependent manner to create a ladder-like appearance, on the basis of reconstructions of focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy datasets using machine learning-based auto-segmentation. In lockstep with changes in ER morphology, axonal mitochondria are fragmented and proportions of hypophosphorylated neurofilament H and M subunits are dramatically increased in Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- spinal cord. Co-occurrence of these findings links ER morphology changes to alterations in mitochondrial morphology and cytoskeletal organization. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice represent an early onset rodent HSP model with robust behavioral and cellular readouts for testing novel therapies.

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    08/08/22 | Neural network organization for courtship-song feature detection in Drosophila.
    Baker CA, McKellar C, Pang R, Nern A, Dorkenwald S, Pacheco DA, Eckstein N, Funke J, Dickson BJ, Murthy M
    Current Biology. 2022 Aug 08;32(15):3317-3333.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.06.019

    Animals communicate using sounds in a wide range of contexts, and auditory systems must encode behaviorally relevant acoustic features to drive appropriate reactions. How feature detection emerges along auditory pathways has been difficult to solve due to challenges in mapping the underlying circuits and characterizing responses to behaviorally relevant features. Here, we study auditory activity in the Drosophila melanogaster brain and investigate feature selectivity for the two main modes of fly courtship song, sinusoids and pulse trains. We identify 24 new cell types of the intermediate layers of the auditory pathway, and using a new connectomic resource, FlyWire, we map all synaptic connections between these cell types, in addition to connections to known early and higher-order auditory neurons-this represents the first circuit-level map of the auditory pathway. We additionally determine the sign (excitatory or inhibitory) of most synapses in this auditory connectome. We find that auditory neurons display a continuum of preferences for courtship song modes and that neurons with different song-mode preferences and response timescales are highly interconnected in a network that lacks hierarchical structure. Nonetheless, we find that the response properties of individual cell types within the connectome are predictable from their inputs. Our study thus provides new insights into the organization of auditory coding within the Drosophila brain.

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    03/26/22 | Transverse endoplasmic reticulum expansion in hereditary spastic paraplegia corticospinal axons.
    Zhu P, Hung H, Batchenkova N, Nixon-Abell J, Henderson J, Zheng P, Renvoisé B, Pang S, Xu CS, Saalfeld S, Funke J, Xie Y, Svara F, Hess HF, Blackstone C
    Human Molecular Genetics. 2022 Mar 26:. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddac072

    Hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) comprise a large group of inherited neurologic disorders affecting the longest corticospinal axons (SPG1-86 plus others), with shared manifestations of lower extremity spasticity and gait impairment. Common autosomal dominant HSPs are caused by mutations in genes encoding the microtubule-severing ATPase spastin (SPAST; SPG4), the membrane-bound GTPase atlastin-1 (ATL1; SPG3A), and the reticulon-like, microtubule-binding protein REEP1 (REEP1; SPG31). These proteins bind one another and function in shaping the tubular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) network. Typically, mouse models of HSPs have mild, later-onset phenotypes, possibly reflecting far shorter lengths of their corticospinal axons relative to humans. Here, we have generated a robust, double mutant mouse model of HSP in which atlastin-1 is genetically modified with a K80A knock-in (KI) missense change that abolishes its GTPase activity, while its binding partner Reep1 is knocked out. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice exhibit early-onset and rapidly progressive declines in several motor function tests. Also, ER in mutant corticospinal axons dramatically expands transversely and periodically in a mutation dosage-dependent manner to create a ladder-like appearance, based on reconstructions of focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy datasets using machine learning-based auto-segmentation. In lockstep with changes in ER morphology, axonal mitochondria are fragmented and proportions of hypophosphorylated neurofilament H and M subunits are dramatically increased in Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- spinal cord. Co-occurrence of these findings links ER morphology changes to alterations in mitochondrial morphology and cytoskeletal organization. Atl1KI/KI/Reep1-/- mice represent an early-onset rodent HSP model with robust behavioral and cellular readouts for testing novel therapies.

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    11/01/21 | Whole-cell organelle segmentation in volume electron microscopy.
    Heinrich L, Bennett D, Ackerman D, Park W, Bogovic J, Eckstein N, Petruncio A, Clements J, Pang S, Xu CS, Funke J, Korff W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Saalfeld S, Weigel AV, COSEM Project Team
    Nature. 2021 Nov 01;599(7883):141-46. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03977-3

    Cells contain hundreds of organelles and macromolecular assemblies. Obtaining a complete understanding of their intricate organization requires the nanometre-level, three-dimensional reconstruction of whole cells, which is only feasible with robust and scalable automatic methods. Here, to support the development of such methods, we annotated up to 35 different cellular organelle classes-ranging from endoplasmic reticulum to microtubules to ribosomes-in diverse sample volumes from multiple cell types imaged at a near-isotropic resolution of 4 nm per voxel with focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). We trained deep learning architectures to segment these structures in 4 nm and 8 nm per voxel FIB-SEM volumes, validated their performance and showed that automatic reconstructions can be used to directly quantify previously inaccessible metrics including spatial interactions between cellular components. We also show that such reconstructions can be used to automatically register light and electron microscopy images for correlative studies. We have created an open data and open-source web repository, 'OpenOrganelle', to share the data, computer code and trained models, which will enable scientists everywhere to query and further improve automatic reconstruction of these datasets.

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