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1416 Publications

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    12/03/18 | Point process latent variable models of larval zebrafish behavior
    Anuj Sharma , Robert Johnson , Florian Engert , Scott W. Linderman
    NeurIPS. 12/2018:

    A fundamental goal of systems neuroscience is to understand how neural activity gives rise to natural behavior. In order to achieve this goal, we must first build comprehensive models that offer quantitative descriptions of behavior. We develop a new class of probabilistic models to tackle this challenge in the study of larval zebrafish, an important model organism for neuroscience. Larval zebrafish locomote via sequences of punctate swim bouts--brief flicks of the tail--which are naturally modeled as a marked point process. However, these sequences of swim bouts belie a set of discrete and continuous internal states, latent variables that are not captured by standard point process models. We incorporate these variables as latent marks of a point process and explore various models for their dynamics. To infer the latent variables and fit the parameters of this model, we develop an amortized variational inference algorithm that targets the collapsed posterior distribution, analytically marginalizing out the discrete latent variables. With a dataset of over 120,000 swim bouts, we show that our models reveal interpretable discrete classes of swim bouts and continuous internal states like hunger that modulate their dynamics. These models are a major step toward understanding the natural behavioral program of the larval zebrafish and, ultimately, its neural underpinnings.

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    11/29/18 | Macroscale fluorescence imaging against autofluorescence under ambient light
    Zhang R, Chouket R, Plamont M, Kelemen Z, Espagne A, Tebo AG, Gautier A, Gissot L, Faure J, Jullien L, Croquette V, Saux TL
    Light: Science & Applications. 11/2018:1 – 12. doi: 10.1038/s41377-018-0098-6

    Macroscale fluorescence imaging is increasingly used to observe biological samples. However, it may suffer from spectral interferences that originate from ambient light or autofluorescence of the sample or its support. In this manuscript, we built a simple and inexpensive fluorescence macroscope, which has been used to evaluate the performance of Speed OPIOM (Out of Phase Imaging after Optical Modulation), which is a reference-free dynamic contrast protocol, to selectively image reversibly photoswitchable fluorophores as labels against detrimental autofluorescence and ambient light. By tuning the intensity and radial frequency of the modulated illumination to the Speed OPIOM resonance and adopting a phase-sensitive detection scheme that ensures noise rejection, we enhanced the sensitivity and the signal-to-noise ratio for fluorescence detection in blot assays by factors of 50 and 10, respectively, over direct fluorescence observation under constant illumination. Then, we overcame the strong autofluorescence of growth media that are currently used in microbiology and realized multiplexed fluorescence observation of colonies of spectrally similar fluorescent bacteria with a unique configuration of excitation and emission wavelengths. Finally, we easily discriminated fluorescent labels from the autofluorescent and reflective background in labeled leaves, even under the interference of incident light at intensities that are comparable to sunlight. The proposed approach is expected to find multiple applications, from biological assays to outdoor observations, in fluorescence macroimaging.

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    11/19/18 | Detecting and Correcting False Transients in Calcium Imaging
    Gauthier JL, Koay SA, Nieh EH, Tank DW, Pillow JW, Charles AS
    bioRxiv. 11/2018:. doi: 10.1101/473470

    Population recordings of calcium activity are a major source of insight into neural function. Large dataset sizes often require automated methods, but automation can introduce errors that are difficult to detect. Here we show that automatic time course estimation can sometimes lead to significant misattribution errors, in which fluorescence is ascribed to the wrong cell. Misattribution arises when the shapes of overlapping cells are imperfectly defined, or when entire cells or processes are not identified, and misattribution can even be produced by methods specifically designed to handle overlap. To diagnose this problem, we develop a transient-by-transient metric and a visualization tool that allow users to quickly assess the degree of misattribution in large populations. To filter out misattribution, we also design a robust estimator that explicitly accounts for contaminating signals in a generative model. Our methods can be combined with essentially any cell finding technique, empowering users to diagnose and correct at large scale a problem that has the potential to significantly alter scientific conclusions.

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    11/14/18 | Ultralarge modulation of fluorescence by neuromodulators in carbon nanotubes functionalized with self-assembled oligonucleotide rings.
    Beyene AG, Alizadehmojarad AA, Dorlhiac G, Goh N, Streets AM, Král P, Vuković L, Landry MP
    Nano Letters. 2018 Nov 14;18(11):6995-7003. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02937

    Noncovalent interactions between single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) oligonucleotides and single wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) have provided a unique class of tunable chemistries for a variety of applications. However, mechanistic insight into both the photophysical and intermolecular phenomena underlying their utility is lacking, which results in obligate heuristic approaches for producing ssDNA-SWNT based technologies. In this work, we present an ultrasensitive "turn-on" nanosensor for neuromodulators dopamine and norepinephrine with strong relative change in fluorescence intensity (Δ F/ F) of up to 3500%, a signal appropriate for in vivo neuroimaging, and uncover the photophysical principles and intermolecular interactions that govern the molecular recognition and fluorescence modulation of this nanosensor synthesized from the spontaneous self-assembly of (GT) ssDNA rings on SWNTs. The fluorescence modulation of the ssDNA-SWNT conjugate is shown to exhibit remarkable sensitivity to the ssDNA sequence chemistry, length, and surface density, providing a set of parameters with which to tune nanosensor dynamic range, analyte selectivity and strength of fluorescence turn-on. We employ classical and quantum mechanical molecular dynamics simulations to rationalize our experimental findings. Calculations show that (GT) ssDNA form ordered rings around (9,4) SWNTs, inducing periodic surface potentials that modulate exciton recombination lifetimes. Further evidence is presented to elucidate how dopamine analyte binding modulates SWNT fluorescence. We discuss the implications of our findings for SWNT-based molecular imaging applications.

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    11/13/18 | New optical probes bring dopamine to light.
    Beyene AG, Delevich K, Yang SJ, Landry MP
    Biochemistry. 2018 Nov 13;57(45):6379-6381. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00883

    Chemical signaling between neurons in the brain can be divided into two major categories: fast synaptic transmission and neuromodulation. Fast synaptic transmission, mediated by amino acids such as glutamate and GABA, occurs on millisecond time scales and results in the influx of ions through ligand-gated ion channels on postsynaptic neurons (Figure 1A). Electrophysiological and optical imaging tools, including genetically encoded voltage indicators, have enabled neuroscientists to link cause (neurotransmitter release) and effect (membrane polarization) of synaptic transmission in time and space. Unlike classical neurotransmitters, neuromodulators do not produce immediate electrical effects that excite or inhibit target neurons. Instead, neuromodulators tune the intrinsic or synaptic properties of neurons, most commonly through interaction with G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) (Figure 1B). Neuromodulators can escape the synaptic cleft and diffuse broadly, allowing them to influence the activity of many neurons in a state-dependent manner. Therefore, the spatial component of neuromodulator flux is fundamentally important. However, the temporal and/or spatial limitations of techniques classically used to study neuromodulation, such as microdialysis and fast-scan cyclic voltammetry (FSCV), make it difficult to interpret how neuromodulator release affects the plasticity or function of target neuronal populations on a moment-to-moment basis. Therefore, tools that can detect neuromodulators with high spatiotemporal resolution are critical for understanding their impact on neural computations that control behavior in health and disease.

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    11/12/18 | Visual physiology of the layer 4 cortical circuit in silico.
    Arkhipov A, Gouwens NW, Billeh YN, Gratiy S, Iyer R, Wei Z, Xu Z, Abbasi-Asl R, Berg J, Buice M, Cain N, da Costa N, de Vries S, Denman D, Durand S, Feng D, Jarsky T, Lecoq J, Lee B, Li L, Mihalas S, Ocker GK, Olsen SR, Reid RC, Soler-Llavina G, Sorensen SA, Wang Q, Waters J, Scanziani M, Koch C
    PLoS Computational Biology. 2018 Nov 12;14(11):e1006535. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006535

    Despite advances in experimental techniques and accumulation of large datasets concerning the composition and properties of the cortex, quantitative modeling of cortical circuits under in-vivo-like conditions remains challenging. Here we report and publicly release a biophysically detailed circuit model of layer 4 in the mouse primary visual cortex, receiving thalamo-cortical visual inputs. The 45,000-neuron model was subjected to a battery of visual stimuli, and results were compared to published work and new in vivo experiments. Simulations reproduced a variety of observations, including effects of optogenetic perturbations. Critical to the agreement between responses in silico and in vivo were the rules of functional synaptic connectivity between neurons. Interestingly, after extreme simplification the model still performed satisfactorily on many measurements, although quantitative agreement with experiments suffered. These results emphasize the importance of functional rules of cortical wiring and enable a next generation of data-driven models of in vivo neural activity and computations.

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    11/05/18 | Single Molecule RNA FISH (smFISH) in Whole-Mount Mouse Embryonic Organs
    Wang S
    Current Protocols in Cell Biology. 11/2018;83:e79. doi:

    Abstract Single molecule RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (smFISH) has become the standard tool for high spatial resolution analysis of gene expression in the context of tissue organization. This article describes protocols to perform smFISH on whole-mount mouse embryonic organs, where tissue organization can be compared to RNA expression by co-immunostaining of known protein markers. An enzymatic labeling strategy is also introduced to produce low-cost smFISH probes. Important considerations and practical guidelines for imaging smFISH samples using fluorescence confocal microscopy are described. Finally, a suite of custom-written ImageJ macros is included with detailed instructions to enable semi-automated smFISH image analysis of both 2D and 3D images. © 2018 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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    10/29/18 | Specialized and spatially organized coding of sensory, motor, and cognitive variables in midbrain dopamine neurons
    Engelhard B, Finkelstein J, Cox J, Fleming W, Jang HJ, Ornelas S, Koay SA, Thiberge S, Daw N, Tank DW, Witten IB
    bioRxiv. 10/2018:. doi: 10.1101/456194

    There is increased appreciation that dopamine (DA) neurons in the midbrain respond not only to reward 1,2 and reward-predicting cues 1,3,4, but also to other variables such as distance to reward 5, movements 6–11 and behavioral choices 12–15. Based on these findings, a major open question is how the responses to these diverse variables are organized across the population of DA neurons. In other words, do individual DA neurons multiplex multiple variables, or are subsets of neurons specialized in encoding specific behavioral variables? The reason that this fundamental question has been difficult to resolve is that recordings from large populations of individual DA neurons have not been performed in a behavioral task with sufficient complexity to examine these diverse variables simultaneously. To address this gap, we used 2-photon calcium imaging through an implanted lens to record activity of >300 midbrain DA neurons in the VTA during a complex decision-making task. As mice navigated in a virtual reality (VR) environment, DA 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 behavioral variables, in addition to encoding reward. These functional clusters were spatially organized, such that neighboring neurons were more likely to be part of the same cluster. Taken together with the topography between DA neurons and their projections, this specialization and anatomical organization may aid downstream circuits in correctly interpreting the wide range of signals transmitted by DA neurons.

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    Fitzgerald Lab
    10/25/18 | Long-Term Consolidation of Ensemble Neural Plasticity Patterns in Hippocampal Area CA1.
    Attardo A, Lu J, Kawashima T, Okuno H, Fitzgerald JE, Bito H, Schnitzer MJ
    Cell reports. 2018 Oct 16;25(3):640-650.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.09.064

    Neural network remodeling underpins the ability to remember life experiences, but little is known about the long-term plasticity of neural populations. To study how the brain encodes episodic events, we used time-lapse two-photon microscopy and a fluorescent reporter of neural plasticity based on an enhanced form of the synaptic activity-responsive element (E-SARE) within the Arc promoter to track thousands of CA1 hippocampal pyramidal cells over weeks in mice that repeatedly encountered different environments. Each environment evokes characteristic patterns of ensemble neural plasticity, but with each encounter, the set of activated cells gradually evolves. After repeated exposures, the plasticity patterns evoked by an individual environment progressively stabilize. Compared with young adults, plasticity patterns in aged mice are less specific to individual environments and less stable across repeat experiences. Long-term consolidation of hippocampal plasticity patterns may support long-term memory formation, whereas weaker consolidation in aged subjects might reflect declining memory function.

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    09/12/18 | A bulky glycocalyx fosters metastasis formation by promoting G1 cell cycle progression
    Woods EC, Kai F, Barnes JM, Pedram K, Pickup MW, Hollander MJ, Weaver VM, Bertozzi CR
    eLife. Sep-12-2018;6:. doi:

    Metastasis depends upon cancer cell growth and survival within the metastatic niche. Tumors which remodel their glycocalyces, by overexpressing bulky glycoproteins like mucins, exhibit a higher predisposition to metastasize, but the role of mucins in oncogenesis remains poorly understood. Here we report that a bulky glycocalyx promotes the expansion of disseminated tumor cells in vivo by fostering integrin adhesion assembly to permit G1 cell cycle progression. We engineered tumor cells to display glycocalyces of various thicknesses by coating them with synthetic mucin-mimetic glycopolymers. Cells adorned with longer glycopolymers showed increased metastatic potential, enhanced cell cycle progression, and greater levels of integrin-FAK mechanosignaling and Akt signaling in a syngeneic mouse model of metastasis. These effects were mirrored by expression of the ectodomain of cancer-associated mucin MUC1. These findings functionally link mucinous proteins with tumor aggression, and offer a new view of the cancer glycocalyx as a major driver of disease progression.

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