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1416 Publications

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    07/10/19 | Imaging striatal dopamine release using a nongenetically encoded near infrared fluorescent catecholamine nanosensor.
    Beyene AG, Delevich K, Del Bonis-O’Donnell JT, Piekarski DJ, Lin WC, Thomas AW, Yang SJ, Kosillo P, Yang D, Prounis GS, Wilbrecht L, Landry MP
    Science Advances. 2019 Jul 10;5(7):eaaw3108. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw3108

    Neuromodulation plays a critical role in brain function in both health and disease, and new tools that capture neuromodulation with high spatial and temporal resolution are needed. Here, we introduce a synthetic catecholamine nanosensor with fluorescent emission in the near infrared range (1000–1300 nm), near infrared catecholamine nanosensor (nIRCat). We demonstrate that nIRCats can be used to measure electrically and optogenetically evoked dopamine release in brain tissue, revealing hotspots with a median size of 2 µm. We also demonstrated that nIRCats are compatible with dopamine pharmacology and show D2 autoreceptor modulation of evoked dopamine release, which varied as a function of initial release magnitude at different hotspots. Together, our data demonstrate that nIRCats and other nanosensors of this class can serve as versatile synthetic optical tools to monitor neuromodulatory neurotransmitter release with high spatial resolution.

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    07/02/19 | Molecular Profiling to Infer Neuronal Cell Identity: Lessons from small ganglia of the Crab Cancer borealis
    Adam J. Northcutt , Daniel R. Kick , Adriane G. Otopalik , Benjamin M. Goetz , Rayna M. Harris , Joseph M. Santin , Hans A. Hofmann , Eve Marder , David J. Schulz
    bioRxiv. 2019 Jul 2:. doi: 10.1101/690388

    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 two forms of transcriptional profiling – RNA-seq and quantitative RT-PCR, in single, unambiguously identified neurons from two small crustacean 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. Our 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 two or more cell types. Therefore, our 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.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Single cell transcriptional profiling has become a widespread tool in cell identification, particularly in the nervous system, based on the notion that genomic information determines cell identity. However, many cell type classification studies are unconstrained by other cellular attributes (e.g., morphology, physiology). Here, we systematically test how accurately transcriptional profiling can assign cell identity to well-studied anatomically- and functionally-identified neurons in two small neuronal networks. While these neurons clearly possess distinct patterns of gene expression across cell types, their expression profiles are not sufficient to unambiguously confirm their identity. We suggest that true cell identity can only be determined by combining gene expression data with other cellular attributes such as innervation pattern, morphology, or physiology.

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    06/27/19 | A split fluorescent reporter with rapid and reversible complementation.
    Tebo AG, Gautier A
    Nature communications. 06/2019;10:2822. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10855-0

    Interactions between proteins play an essential role in metabolic and signaling pathways, cellular processes and organismal systems. We report the development of splitFAST, a fluorescence complementation system for the visualization of transient protein-protein interactions in living cells. Engineered from the fluorogenic reporter FAST (Fluorescence-Activating and absorption-Shifting Tag), which specifically and reversibly binds fluorogenic hydroxybenzylidene rhodanine (HBR) analogs, splitFAST displays rapid and reversible complementation, allowing the real-time visualization of both the formation and the dissociation of a protein assembly.

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    06/21/19 | Functional divergence of Plexin B structural motifs in distinct steps of olfactory circuit assembly.
    Guajardo R, Luginbuhl DJ, Han S, Luo L, Li J
    Elife. 06/2019;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.48594

    Plexins exhibit multitudinous, evolutionarily conserved functions in neural development. How Plexins employ their diverse structural motifs in vivo to perform distinct roles is unclear. We previously reported that Plexin B (PlexB) controls multiple steps during the assembly of the olfactory circuit (Li et al., 2018b). Here, we systematically mutagenized structural motifs of PlexB and examined the function of these variants in these multiple steps: axon fasciculation, trajectory choice, and synaptic partner selection. We found that the extracellular Sema domain is essential for all three steps, the catalytic site of the intracellular RapGAP is engaged in none, and the intracellular GTPase-binding motifs are essential for trajectory choice and synaptic partner selection, but are dispensable for fasciculation. Moreover, extracellular PlexB cleavage serves as a regulatory mechanism of PlexB signaling. Thus, the divergent roles of PlexB motifs in distinct steps of neural development contribute to its functional versatility in neural circuit assembly.

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    06/21/19 | High precision coding in visual cortex
    Stringer C, Michaelos M, Pachitariu M
    BioRxiv. 06/2019:679324. doi:

    Single neurons in visual cortex provide unreliable measurements of visual features due to their high trial-to-trial variability. It is not known if this “noise” extends its effects over large neural populations to impair the global encoding of sensory stimuli. We recorded simultaneously from ∼20,000 neurons in mouse visual cortex and found that the neural population had discrimination thresholds of 0.3° in an orientation decoding task. These thresholds are ∼100 times smaller than those reported behaviorally in mice. The discrepancy between neural and behavioral discrimination could not be explained by the types of stimuli we used, by behavioral states or by the sequential nature of trial-by-trial perceptual learning tasks. These results imply that the limits of sensory perception in mice are not set by neural noise in sensory cortex, but by the limitations of downstream decoders.

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    06/10/19 | Extracellular matrix dynamics in cell migration, invasion and tissue morphogenesis
    Yamada KM, Collins JW, Cruz Walma DA, Doyle AD, Morales SG, Lu J, Matsumoto K, Nazari SS, Sekiguchi R, Shinsato Y, Wang S
    International Journal of Experimental Pathology. 06/2019;100:144-152. doi:

    Summary This review describes how direct visualization of the dynamic interactions of cells with different extracellular matrix microenvironments can provide novel insights into complex biological processes. Recent studies have moved characterization of cell migration and invasion from classical 2D culture systems into 1D and 3D model systems, revealing multiple differences in mechanisms of cell adhesion, migration and signalling—even though cells in 3D can still display prominent focal adhesions. Myosin II restrains cell migration speed in 2D culture but is often essential for effective 3D migration. 3D cell migration modes can switch between lamellipodial, lobopodial and/or amoeboid depending on the local matrix environment. For example, “nuclear piston” migration can be switched off by local proteolysis, and proteolytic invadopodia can be induced by a high density of fibrillar matrix. Particularly, complex remodelling of both extracellular matrix and tissues occurs during morphogenesis. Extracellular matrix supports self-assembly of embryonic tissues, but it must also be locally actively remodelled. For example, surprisingly focal remodelling of the basement membrane occurs during branching morphogenesis—numerous tiny perforations generated by proteolysis and actomyosin contractility produce a microscopically porous, flexible basement membrane meshwork for tissue expansion. Cells extend highly active blebs or protrusions towards the surrounding mesenchyme through these perforations. Concurrently, the entire basement membrane undergoes translocation in a direction opposite to bud expansion. Underlying this slowly moving 2D basement membrane translocation are highly dynamic individual cell movements. We conclude this review by describing a variety of exciting research opportunities for discovering novel insights into cell-matrix interactions.

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    05/29/19 | Specialized coding of sensory, motor and cognitive variables in VTA dopamine neurons
    Engelhard B, Finkelstein J, Cox J, Fleming W, Jang HJ, Ornelas S, Koay SA, Thiberge SY, Daw ND, Tank DW, Witten IB
    Nature. 05/2019;570(7762):509 - 513. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1261-9

    There is increased appreciation that dopamine neurons in the midbrain respond not only to reward1 and reward-predicting cues1,2, but also to other variables such as the distance to reward3, movements4,5,6,7,8,9 and behavioural choices10,11. An important question is how the responses to these diverse variables are organized across the population of dopamine neurons. Whether individual dopamine neurons multiplex several variables, or whether there are subsets of neurons that are specialized in encoding specific behavioural variables remains unclear. This fundamental question has been difficult to resolve because recordings from large populations of individual dopamine neurons have not been performed in a behavioural task with sufficient complexity to examine these diverse variables simultaneously. Here, to address this gap, we used two-photon calcium imaging through an implanted lens to record the activity of more than 300 dopamine neurons from the ventral tegmental area of the mouse midbrain during a complex decision-making task. As mice navigated in a virtual-reality environment, dopamine neurons encoded an array of sensory, motor and cognitive variables. These responses were functionally clustered, such that subpopulations of neurons transmitted information about a subset of behavioural variables, in addition to encoding reward. These functional clusters were spatially organized, with neighbouring neurons more likely to be part of the same cluster. Together with the topography between dopamine neurons and their projections, this specialization and anatomical organization may aid downstream circuits in correctly interpreting the wide range of signals transmitted by dopamine neurons.

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    04/11/19 | A high-content imaging approach to profile C. elegans embryonic development
    Wang S, Ochoa SD, Khaliullin RN, Gerson-Gurwitz A, Hendel JM, Zhao Z, Biggs R, Chisholm AD, Desai A, Oegema K, Green RA
    Development. 04-2019;146:. doi: 10.1242/dev.174029

    The Caenorhabditis elegans embryo is an important model for analyzing mechanisms of cell fate specification and tissue morphogenesis. Sophisticated lineage-tracing approaches for analyzing embryogenesis have been developed but are labor intensive and do not naturally integrate morphogenetic readouts. To enable the rapid classification of developmental phenotypes, we developed a high-content method that employs two custom strains: a Germ Layer strain that expresses nuclear markers in the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm/pharynx; and a Morphogenesis strain that expresses markers labeling epidermal cell junctions and the neuronal cell surface. We describe a procedure that allows simultaneous live imaging of development in 80-100 embryos and provide a custom program that generates cropped, oriented image stacks of individual embryos to facilitate analysis. We demonstrate the utility of our method by perturbing 40 previously characterized developmental genes in variants of the two strains containing RNAi-sensitizing mutations. The resulting datasets yielded distinct, reproducible signature phenotypes for a broad spectrum of genes that are involved in cell fate specification and morphogenesis. In addition, our analysis provides new in vivo evidence for MBK-2 function in mesoderm fate specification and LET-381 function in elongation.

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    04/01/19 | Neuronal Transdifferentiation Potential of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Neonatal and Adult Sources by a Small Molecule Cocktail.
    Cortés-Medina LV, Pasantes-Morales H, Aguilera-Castrejon A, Picones A, Lara-Figueroa CO, Luis E, Montesinos JJ, Cortés-Morales VA, De la Rosa Ruiz MP, Hernández-Estévez E, Bonifaz LC, Alvarez-Perez MA, Ramos-Mandujano G
    Stem Cells Int. 04/2019;2019:7627148. doi: 10.1155/2019/7627148

    Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are good candidates for brain cell replacement strategies and have already been used as adjuvant treatments in neurological disorders. MSCs can be obtained from many different sources, and the present study compares the potential of neuronal transdifferentiation in MSCs from adult and neonatal sources (Wharton's jelly (WhJ), dental pulp (DP), periodontal ligament (PDL), gingival tissue (GT), dermis (SK), placenta (PLAC), and umbilical cord blood (UCB)) with a protocol previously tested in bone marrow- (BM-) MSCs consisting of a cocktail of six small molecules: I-BET151, CHIR99021, forskolin, RepSox, Y-27632, and dbcAMP (ICFRYA). Neuronal morphology and the presence of cells positive for neuronal markers (TUJ1 and MAP2) were considered attributes of neuronal induction. The ICFRYA cocktail did not induce neuronal features in WhJ-MSCs, and these features were only partial in the MSCs from dental tissues, SK-MSCs, and PLAC-MSCs. The best response was found in UCB-MSCs, which was comparable to the response of BM-MSCs. The addition of neurotrophic factors to the ICFRYA cocktail significantly increased the number of cells with complex neuron-like morphology and increased the number of cells positive for mature neuronal markers in BM- and UCB-MSCs. The neuronal cells generated from UCB-MSCs and BM-MSCs showed increased reactivity of the neuronal genes TUJ1, MAP2, NF-H, NCAM, ND1, TAU, ENO2, GABA, and NeuN as well as down- and upregulation of MSC and neuronal genes, respectively. The present study showed marked differences between the MSCs from different sources in response to the transdifferentiation protocol used here. These results may contribute to identifying the best source of MSCs for potential cell replacement therapies.

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    03/25/19 | The Kinetochore-Microtubule Coupling Machinery Is Repurposed in Sensory Nervous System Morphogenesis
    Dhanya K. Cheerambathur , Bram Prevo , Tiffany-Lynn Chow , Neil Hattersley , Shaohe Wang , Zhiling Zhao , Taekyung Kim , Adina Gerson-Gurwitz , Karen Oegema , Rebecca Green , Arshad Desai
    Developmental Cell. 03/2019;48:864-872.e7. doi:

    Summary Dynamic coupling of microtubule ends to kinetochores, built on the centromeres of chromosomes, directs chromosome segregation during cell division. Here, we report that the evolutionarily ancient kinetochore-microtubule coupling machine, the KMN (Knl1/Mis12/Ndc80-complex) network, plays a critical role in neuronal morphogenesis. We show that the KMN network concentrates in microtubule-rich dendrites of developing sensory neurons that collectively extend in a multicellular morphogenetic event that occurs during C. elegans embryogenesis. Post-mitotic degradation of KMN components in sensory neurons disrupts dendritic extension, leading to patterning and functional defects in the sensory nervous system. Structure-guided mutations revealed that the molecular interface that couples kinetochores to spindle microtubules also functions in neuronal development. These results identify a cell-division-independent function for the chromosome-segregation machinery and define a microtubule-coupling-dependent event in sensory nervous system morphogenesis.

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