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1416 Publications

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    02/12/21 | Molecular profiling of single neurons of known identity in two ganglia from the crab <i>Cancer borealis</i>
    Northcutt AJ, Kick DR, Otopalik AG, Goetz BM, Harris RM, Santin JM, Hofmann HA, Marder E, Schulz DJ
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2021 Feb 12;116(52):26980 - 26990. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1911413116

    Understanding circuit organization depends on identification of cell types. Recent advances in transcriptional profiling methods have enabled classification of cell types by their gene expression. While exceptionally powerful and high throughput, the ground-truth validation of these methods is difficult: If cell type is unknown, how does one assess whether a given analysis accurately captures neuronal identity? To shed light on the capabilities and limitations of solely using transcriptional profiling for cell-type classification, we performed 2 forms of transcriptional profiling—RNA-seq and quantitative RT-PCR, in single, unambiguously identified neurons from 2 small crustacean neuronal networks: The stomatogastric and cardiac ganglia. We then combined our knowledge of cell type with unbiased clustering analyses and supervised machine learning to determine how accurately functionally defined neuron types can be classified by expression profile alone. The results demonstrate that expression profile is able to capture neuronal identity most accurately when combined with multimodal information that allows for post hoc grouping, so analysis can proceed from a supervised perspective. Solely unsupervised clustering can lead to misidentification and an inability to distinguish between 2 or more cell types. Therefore, this study supports the general utility of cell identification by transcriptional profiling, but adds a caution: It is difficult or impossible to know under what conditions transcriptional profiling alone is capable of assigning cell identity. Only by combining multiple modalities of information such as physiology, morphology, or innervation target can neuronal identity be unambiguously determined.

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    02/06/21 | ZCCHC8 is required for the degradation of pervasive transcripts originating from multiple genomic regulatory features
    Joshua W. Collins , Daniel Martin , Genomics , Computational Biology Core , Shaohe Wang , Kenneth M. Yamada
    bioRxiv. 02/2021:. doi: 10.1101/2021.01.29.428898

    The vast majority of mammalian genomes are transcribed as non-coding RNA in what is referred to as “pervasive transcription.” Recent studies have uncovered various families of non-coding RNA transcribed upstream of transcription start sites. In particular, highly unstable promoter upstream transcripts known as PROMPTs have been shown to be targeted for exosomal degradation by the nuclear exosome targeting complex (NEXT) consisting of the RNA helicase MTR4, the zinc-knuckle scaffold ZCCHC8, and the RNA binding protein RBM7. Here, we report that in addition to its known RNA substrates, ZCCHC8 is required for the targeted degradation of pervasive transcripts produced at CTCF binding sites, open chromatin regions, promoters, promoter flanking regions, and transcription factor binding sites. Additionally, we report that a significant number of RIKEN cDNAs and predicted genes display the hallmarks of PROMPTs and are also substrates for ZCCHC8 and/or NEXT complex regulation suggesting these are unlikely to be functional genes. Our results suggest that ZCCHC8 and/or the NEXT complex may play a larger role in the global regulation of pervasive transcription than previously reported.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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    02/03/21 | Systems Neuroscience of Natural Behaviors in Rodents
    Dennis EJ, El Hady A, Michaiel A, Clemens A, Tervo DR, Voigts J, Datta SR
    Journal of Neuroscience. 02/2021;41:911–919. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1877-20.2020

    Animals evolved in complex environments, producing a wide range of behaviors, including navigation, foraging, prey capture, and conspecific interactions, which vary over timescales ranging from milliseconds to days. Historically, these behaviors have been the focus of study for ecology and ethology, while systems neuroscience has largely focused on short timescale behaviors that can be repeated thousands of times and occur in highly artificial environments. Thanks to recent advances in machine learning, miniaturization, and computation, it is newly possible to study freely moving animals in more natural conditions while applying systems techniques: performing temporally specific perturbations, modeling behavioral strategies, and recording from large numbers of neurons while animals are freely moving. The authors of this review are a group of scientists with deep appreciation for the common aims of systems neuroscience, ecology, and ethology. We believe it is an extremely exciting time to be a neuroscientist, as we have an opportunity to grow as a field, to embrace interdisciplinary, open, collaborative research to provide new insights and allow researchers to link knowledge across disciplines, species, and scales. Here we discuss the origins of ethology, ecology, and systems neuroscience in the context of our own work and highlight how combining approaches across these fields has provided fresh insights into our research. We hope this review facilitates some of these interactions and alliances and helps us all do even better science, together.

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    01/11/21 | Temporal evolution of single-cell transcriptomes of olfactory projection neurons.
    Xie Q, Brbić M, Horns F, Kolluru SS, Jones RC, Li J, Reddy AR, Xie A, Kohani S, Li Z, McLaughlin CN, Li T, Xu C, Vacek D, Luginbuhl DJ, Leskovec J, Quake SR, Luo L, Li H
    Elife. 01/2021;10:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63450

    Neurons undergo substantial morphological and functional changes during development to form precise synaptic connections and acquire specific physiological properties. What are the underlying transcriptomic bases? Here, we obtained the single-cell transcriptomes of olfactory projection neurons (PNs) at four developmental stages. We decoded the identity of 21 transcriptomic clusters corresponding to 20 PN types and developed methods to match transcriptomic clusters representing the same PN type across development. We discovered that PN transcriptomes reflect unique biological processes unfolding at each stage-neurite growth and pruning during metamorphosis at an early pupal stage; peaked transcriptomic diversity during olfactory circuit assembly at mid-pupal stages; and neuronal signaling in adults. At early developmental stages, PN types with adjacent birth order share similar transcriptomes. Together, our work reveals principles of cellular diversity during brain development and provides a resource for future studies of neural development in PNs and other neuronal types.

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    01/05/21 | Polo-like kinase 1 independently controls microtubule-nucleating capacity and size of the centrosome
    Ohta M, Zhao Z, Wu D, Wang S, Harrison JL, Gómez-Cavazos JS, Desai A, Oegema KF
    Journal of Cell Biology. 01/2021;220:. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202009083

    Centrosomes are composed of a centriolar core surrounded by a pericentriolar material (PCM) matrix that docks microtubule-nucleating γ-tubulin complexes. During mitotic entry, the PCM matrix increases in size and nucleating capacity in a process called centrosome maturation. Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is recruited to centrosomes and phosphorylates PCM matrix proteins to drive their self-assembly, which leads to PCM expansion. Here, we show that in addition to controlling PCM expansion, PLK1 independently controls the generation of binding sites for γ-tubulin complexes on the PCM matrix. Selectively preventing the generation of PLK1-dependent γ-tubulin docking sites led to spindle defects and impaired chromosome segregation without affecting PCM expansion, highlighting the importance of phospho-regulated centrosomal γ-tubulin docking sites in spindle assembly. Inhibiting both γ-tubulin docking and PCM expansion by mutating substrate target sites recapitulated the effects of loss of centrosomal PLK1 on the ability of centrosomes to catalyze spindle assembly.

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    01/01/21 | An Acquired and Endogenous Glycocalyx Forms a Bidirectional “Don’t Eat” and “Don’t Eat Me” Barrier to Phagocytosis
    Imbert PR, Saric A, Pedram K, Bertozzi CR, Grinstein S, Freeman SA
    Current Biology. Jan-01-2021;31(1):77 - 89.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.09.082

    Macrophages continuously survey their environment in search of pathogens or apoptotic corpses or debris. Targets intended for clearance expose ligands that initiate their phagocytosis ("eat me" signals), while others avoid phagocytosis by displaying inhibitory ligands ("don't eat me" signals). We report that such ligands can be obscured by the glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins that coat pathogenic as well as malignant phagocytic targets. In addition, a reciprocal barrier of self-synthesized or acquired glycocalyx components on the macrophage surface shrouds phagocytic receptors, curtailing their ability to engage particles. The coating layers of macrophages and their targets hinder phagocytosis by both steric and electrostatic means. Their removal by enzymatic means is shown to markedly enhance phagocytic efficiency. In particular, we show that the removal of mucins, which are overexpressed in cancer cells, facilitates their clearance. These results shed light on the physical barriers that modulate phagocytosis, which have been heretofore underappreciated.

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    12/14/20 | Label-free imaging of fibroblast membrane interfaces and protein signatures with vibrational infrared photothermal and phase signals.
    Samolis PD, Langley D, O'Reilly BM, Oo Z, Hilzenrat G, Erramilli S, Sgro AE, McArthur S, Sander MY
    Biomed Opt Express. 12/2020;12(1):303-319. doi: 10.1364/BOE.411888

    Label-free vibrational imaging of biological samples has attracted significant interest due to its integration of structural and chemical information. Vibrational infrared photothermal amplitude and phase signal (VIPPS) imaging provide label-free chemical identification by targeting the characteristic resonances of biological compounds that are present in the mid-infrared fingerprint region (3 µm - 12 µm). High contrast imaging of subcellular features and chemical identification of protein secondary structures in unlabeled and labeled fibroblast cells embedded in a collagen-rich extracellular matrix is demonstrated by combining contrast from absorption signatures (amplitude signals) with sensitive detection of different heat properties (lock-in phase signals). We present that the detectability of nano-sized cell membranes is enhanced to well below the optical diffraction limit since the membranes are found to act as thermal barriers. VIPPS offers a novel combination of chemical imaging and thermal diffusion characterization that paves the way towards label-free imaging of cell models and tissues as well as the study of intracellular heat dynamics.

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    08/01/20 | Sensing cellular biochemistry with fluorescent chemical–genetic hybrids
    Gautier A, Tebo AG
    Current Opinion in Chemical Biology. 08/2020;57:58–64. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2020.04.005

    Fluorescent biosensors are powerful tools for the detection of biochemical events inside cells with high spatiotemporal resolution. Biosensors based on fluorescent proteins often suffer from issues with photostability and brightness. On the other hand, hybrid, chemical–genetic systems present unique opportunities to combine the strengths of synthetic, organic chemistry with biological macromolecules to generate exquisitely tailored semisynthetic sensors.

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    10/01/20 | Context-dependent functional compensation between Ythdf mA reader proteins.
    Lasman L, Krupalnik V, Viukov S, Mor N, Aguilera-Castrejon A, Schneir D, Bayerl J, Mizrahi O, Peles S, Tawil S, Sathe S, Nachshon A, Shani T, Zerbib M, Kilimnik I, Aigner S, Shankar A, Mueller JR, Schwartz S, Stern-Ginossar N, Yeo GW, Geula S, Novershtern N, Hanna JH
    Genes Dev. 10/2020;34(19-20):1373-1391. doi: 10.1101/gad.340695.120

    The N6-methyladenosine (mA) modification is the most prevalent post-transcriptional mRNA modification, regulating mRNA decay and splicing. It plays a major role during normal development, differentiation, and disease progression. The modification is regulated by a set of writer, eraser, and reader proteins. The YTH domain family of proteins consists of three homologous mA-binding proteins, Ythdf1, Ythdf2, and Ythdf3, which were suggested to have different cellular functions. However, their sequence similarity and their tendency to bind the same targets suggest that they may have overlapping roles. We systematically knocked out (KO) the Mettl3 writer, each of the Ythdf readers, and the three readers together (triple-KO). We then estimated the effect in vivo in mouse gametogenesis, postnatal viability, and in vitro in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs). In gametogenesis, severity is increased as the deletion occurs earlier in the process, and Ythdf2 has a dominant role that cannot be compensated by Ythdf1 or Ythdf3, due to differences in readers' expression pattern across different cell types, both in quantity and in spatial location. Knocking out the three readers together and systematically testing viable offspring genotypes revealed a redundancy in the readers' role during early development that is gene dosage-dependent. Finally, in mESCs there is compensation between the three Ythdf reader proteins, since the resistance to differentiate and the significant effect on mRNA decay occur only in the triple-KO cells and not in the single KOs. Thus, we suggest a new model for the Ythdf readers function, in which there is profound dosage-dependent redundancy when all three readers are equivalently coexpressed in the same cell types.

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    09/25/20 | Integrated structure-function dataset reveals key mechanisms underlying photochromic fluorescent proteins
    Zitter ED, Hugelier S, Duwé S, Vandenberg W, Tebo AG, Meervelt LV, Dedecker P
    bioRxiv. 09/2020:2020.09.25.313528. doi: 10.1101/2020.09.25.313528

    Photochromic fluorescent proteins have become versatile tools in the life sciences, though our understanding of their structure-function relation is limited. Starting from a single scaffold, we have developed a range of 27 photochromic fluorescent proteins that cover a broad range of spectroscopic properties, yet differ only in one or two mutations. We also determined 43 different crystal structures of these mutants. Correlation and principal component analysis of the spectroscopic and structural properties confirmed the complex relationship between structure and spectroscopy, suggesting that the observed variability does not arise from a limited number of mechanisms, but also allowed us to identify consistent trends and to relate these to the spatial organization around the chromophore. We find that particular changes in spectroscopic properties can come about through multiple different underlying mechanisms, of which the polarity of the chromophore environment and hydrogen bonding of the chromophore are key modulators. Furthermore, some spectroscopic parameters, such as the photochromism, appear to be largely determined by a single or a few structural properties, while other parameters, such as the absorption maximum, do not allow a clear identification of a single cause. We also highlight the role of water molecules close to the chromophore in influencing photochromism. We anticipate that our dataset can open opportunities for the development and evaluation of new and existing protein engineering methods.

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