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40 Publications

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    04/01/24 | Patch-walking: Coordinated multi-pipette patch clamp for efficiently finding synaptic connections
    Mighten C. Yip , Mercedes M. Gonzalez , Colby F. Lewallen , Corey R. Landry , Ilya Kolb , Bo Yang , William M. Stoy , Ming-fai Fong , Matthew JM Rowan , Edward S. Boyden , Craig R. Forest
    bioRxiv. 2024 Apr 1:. doi: 10.1101/2024.03.30.587445

    Significant technical challenges exist when measuring synaptic connections between neurons in living brain tissue. The patch clamping technique, when used to probe for synaptic connections, is manually laborious and time-consuming. To improve its efficiency, we pursued another approach: instead of retracting all patch clamping electrodes after each recording attempt, we cleaned just one of them and reused it to obtain another recording while maintaining the others. With one new patch clamp recording attempt, many new connections can be probed. By placing one pipette in front of the others in this way, one can “walk” across the tissue, termed “patch-walking.” We performed 136 patch clamp attempts for two pipettes, achieving 71 successful whole cell recordings (52.2%). Of these, we probed 29 pairs (i.e., 58 bidirectional probed connections) averaging 91 μm intersomatic distance, finding 3 connections. Patch-walking yields 80-92% more probed connections, for experiments with 10-100 cells than the traditional synaptic connection searching method.

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    03/22/24 | Visualization of Glutamatergic Neurotransmission in Diverse Model Organisms with Genetically Encoded Indicators
    Aggarwal A, Chan J, Waring AK, Negrean A, Marvin JS, Podgorski K, Looger LL, Kukley M
    New Technologies for Glutamate Interaction: Neurons and Glia;2780:3–34. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3742-5_1

    Glutamate is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter, and occasionally subserves inhibitory roles, in the vertebrate nervous system. Glutamatergic synapses are dense in the vertebrate brain, at \textasciitilde1/μm3. Glutamate is released from and onto diverse components of the nervous system, including neurons, glia, and other cells. Methods for glutamate detection are critically important for understanding the function of synapses and neural circuits in normal physiology, development, and disease. Here we describe the development, optimization, and deployment of genetically encoded fluorescent glutamate indicators. We review the theoretical considerations governing glutamate sensor properties from first principles of synapse biology, microscopy, and protein structure-function relationships. We provide case studies of the state-of-the-art iGluSnFR glutamate sensor, encompassing design and optimization, mechanism of action, in vivo imaging, data analysis, and future directions. We include detailed protocols for iGluSnFR imaging in common preparations (bacteria, cell culture, and brain slices) and model organisms (worm, fly, fish, rodent).

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    02/23/24 | Recording physiological history of cells with chemical labeling.
    Huppertz M, Wilhelm J, Grenier V, Schneider MW, Falt T, Porzberg N, Hausmann D, Hoffmann DC, Hai L, Tarnawski M, Pino G, Slanchev K, Kolb I, Acuna C, Fenk LM, Baier H, Hiblot J, Johnsson K
    Science. 2024 Feb 23;383(6685):890-897. doi: 10.1126/science.adg0812

    Recordings of the physiological history of cells provide insights into biological processes, yet obtaining such recordings is a challenge. To address this, we introduce a method to record transient cellular events for later analysis. We designed proteins that become labeled in the presence of both a specific cellular activity and a fluorescent substrate. The recording period is set by the presence of the substrate, whereas the cellular activity controls the degree of the labeling. The use of distinguishable substrates enabled the recording of successive periods of activity. We recorded protein-protein interactions, G protein-coupled receptor activation, and increases in intracellular calcium. Recordings of elevated calcium levels allowed selections of cells from heterogeneous populations for transcriptomic analysis and tracking of neuronal activities in flies and zebrafish.

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    06/01/23 | Glutamate indicators with improved activation kinetics and localization for imaging synaptic transmission.
    Aggarwal A, Liu R, Chen Y, Ralowicz AJ, Bergerson SJ, Tomaska F, Mohar B, Hanson TL, Hasseman JP, Reep D, Tsegaye G, Yao P, Ji X, Kloos M, Walpita D, Patel R, Mohr MA, Tillberg PW, GENIE Project Team , Looger LL, Marvin JS, Hoppa MB, Konnerth A, Kleinfeld D, Schreiter ER, Podgorski K
    Nature Methods. 2023 Jun 01;20(6):. doi: 10.1038/s41592-023-01863-6

    The fluorescent glutamate indicator iGluSnFR enables imaging of neurotransmission with genetic and molecular specificity. However, existing iGluSnFR variants exhibit low in vivo signal-to-noise ratios, saturating activation kinetics and exclusion from postsynaptic densities. Using a multiassay screen in bacteria, soluble protein and cultured neurons, we generated variants with improved signal-to-noise ratios and kinetics. We developed surface display constructs that improve iGluSnFR's nanoscopic localization to postsynapses. The resulting indicator iGluSnFR3 exhibits rapid nonsaturating activation kinetics and reports synaptic glutamate release with decreased saturation and increased specificity versus extrasynaptic signals in cultured neurons. Simultaneous imaging and electrophysiology at individual boutons in mouse visual cortex showed that iGluSnFR3 transients report single action potentials with high specificity. In vibrissal sensory cortex layer 4, we used iGluSnFR3 to characterize distinct patterns of touch-evoked feedforward input from thalamocortical boutons and both feedforward and recurrent input onto L4 cortical neuron dendritic spines.

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    05/17/23 | Sensitivity optimization of a rhodopsin-based fluorescent voltage indicator
    Abdelfattah AS, Zheng J, Singh A, Huang Y, Reep D, Tsegaye G, Tsang A, Arthur BJ, Rehorova M, Olson CV, Shuai Y, Zhang L, Fu T, Milkie DE, Moya MV, Weber TD, Lemire AL, Baker CA, Falco N, Zheng Q, Grimm JB, Yip MC, Walpita D, Chase M, Campagnola L, Murphy GJ, Wong AM, Forest CR, Mertz J, Economo MN, Turner GC, Koyama M, Lin B, Betzig E, Novak O, Lavis LD, Svoboda K, Korff W, Chen T, Schreiter ER, Hasseman JP, Kolb I
    Neuron. 2023 May 17;111(10):1547-1563. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2023.03.009

    The ability to optically image cellular transmembrane voltages at millisecond-timescale resolutions can offer unprecedented insight into the function of living brains in behaving animals. Here, we present a point mutation that increases the sensitivity of Ace2 opsin-based voltage indicators. We use the mutation to develop Voltron2, an improved chemigeneic voltage indicator that has a 65% higher sensitivity to single APs and 3-fold higher sensitivity to subthreshold potentials than Voltron. Voltron2 retained the sub-millisecond kinetics and photostability of its predecessor, although with lower baseline fluorescence. In multiple in vitro and in vivo comparisons with its predecessor across multiple species, we found Voltron2 to be more sensitive to APs and subthreshold fluctuations. Finally, we used Voltron2 to study and evaluate the possible mechanisms of interneuron synchronization in the mouse hippocampus. Overall, we have discovered a generalizable mutation that significantly increases the sensitivity of Ace2 rhodopsin-based sensors, improving their voltage reporting capability.

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    Looger LabGENIE
    04/10/23 | Volume-transmitted GABA waves pace epileptiform rhythms in the hippocampal network
    Vincent Magloire , Leonid P. Savtchenko , Sergyi Sylantyev , Thomas P. Jensen , Nicholas Cole , Jonathan S. Marvin , Loren L. Looger , Dimitri M. Kullmann , Matthew C. Walker , Ivan Pavlov , Dmitri A. Rusakov
    Current Biology. 2023 Apr 10;33(7):1249. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.02.051

    Mechanisms that entrain and drive rhythmic epileptiform discharges remain debated. Traditionally, this quest has been focusing on interneuronal networks driven by GABAergic connections that activate synaptic or extrasynaptic receptors. However, synchronised interneuronal discharges could also trigger a transient elevation of extracellular GABA across the tissue volume, thus raising tonic GABAA receptor conductance (Gtonic) in multiple cells. Here, we use patch-clamp GABA ‘sniffer’ and optical GABA sensor to show that periodic epileptiform discharges are preceded by region-wide, rising waves of extracellular GABA. Neural network simulations that incorporate volume-transmitted GABA signals point to mechanistic principles underpinning this relationship. We validate this hypothesis using simultaneous patch-clamp recordings from multiple nerve cells, selective optogenetic stimulation of fast-spiking interneurons. Critically, we manipulate GABA uptake to suppress extracellular GABA waves but not synaptic GABAergic transmission, which shows a clear effect on rhythm generation. Our findings thus unveil a key role of extrasynaptic, volume-transmitted GABA actions in pacing regenerative rhythmic activity in brain networks.

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    03/15/23 | Fast and sensitive GCaMP calcium indicators for imaging neural populations.
    Zhang Y, Rozsa M, Liang Y, Bushey D, Wei Z, Zheng J, Reep D, Broussard GJ, Tsang A, Tsegaye G, Narayan S, Obara CJ, Lim J, Patel R, Zhang R, Ahrens MB, Turner GC, Wang SS, Korff WL, Schreiter ER, Svoboda K, Hasseman JP, Kolb I, Looger LL
    Nature. 2023 Mar 15:. doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05828-9

    Calcium imaging with protein-based indicators is widely used to follow neural activity in intact nervous systems, but current protein sensors report neural activity at timescales much slower than electrical signalling and are limited by trade-offs between sensitivity and kinetics. Here we used large-scale screening and structure-guided mutagenesis to develop and optimize several fast and sensitive GCaMP-type indicators. The resulting 'jGCaMP8' sensors, based on the calcium-binding protein calmodulin and a fragment of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, have ultra-fast kinetics (half-rise times of 2 ms) and the highest sensitivity for neural activity reported for a protein-based calcium sensor. jGCaMP8 sensors will allow tracking of large populations of neurons on timescales relevant to neural computation.

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    01/18/23 | Mesolimbic dopamine adapts the rate of learning from action.
    Coddington LT, Lindo SE, Dudman JT
    Nature. 2023 Jan 18:. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05614-z

    Recent success in training artificial agents and robots derives from a combination of direct learning of behavioural policies and indirect learning through value functions. Policy learning and value learning use distinct algorithms that optimize behavioural performance and reward prediction, respectively. In animals, behavioural learning and the role of mesolimbic dopamine signalling have been extensively evaluated with respect to reward prediction; however, so far there has been little consideration of how direct policy learning might inform our understanding. Here we used a comprehensive dataset of orofacial and body movements to understand how behavioural policies evolved as naive, head-restrained mice learned a trace conditioning paradigm. Individual differences in initial dopaminergic reward responses correlated with the emergence of learned behavioural policy, but not the emergence of putative value encoding for a predictive cue. Likewise, physiologically calibrated manipulations of mesolimbic dopamine produced several effects inconsistent with value learning but predicted by a neural-network-based model that used dopamine signals to set an adaptive rate, not an error signal, for behavioural policy learning. This work provides strong evidence that phasic dopamine activity can regulate direct learning of behavioural policies, expanding the explanatory power of reinforcement learning models for animal learning.

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    12/22/22 | A brainstem integrator for self-localization and positional homeostasis
    Yang E, Zwart MF, Rubinov M, James B, Wei Z, Narayan S, Vladimirov N, Mensh BD, Fitzgerald JE, Ahrens MB
    Cell. 2022 Dec 22;185(26):5011-5027.e20. doi: 10.1101/2021.11.26.468907

    To accurately track self-location, animals need to integrate their movements through space. In amniotes, representations of self-location have been found in regions such as the hippocampus. It is unknown whether more ancient brain regions contain such representations and by which pathways they may drive locomotion. Fish displaced by water currents must prevent uncontrolled drift to potentially dangerous areas. We found that larval zebrafish track such movements and can later swim back to their earlier location. Whole-brain functional imaging revealed the circuit enabling this process of positional homeostasis. Position-encoding brainstem neurons integrate optic flow, then bias future swimming to correct for past displacements by modulating inferior olive and cerebellar activity. Manipulation of position-encoding or olivary neurons abolished positional homeostasis or evoked behavior as if animals had experienced positional shifts. These results reveal a multiregional hindbrain circuit in vertebrates for optic flow integration, memory of self-location, and its neural pathway to behavior.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

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    Svoboda LabGENIE
    09/15/20 | A comparison of neuronal population dynamics measured with calcium imaging and electrophysiology.
    Wei Z, Lin B, Chen T, Daie K, Svoboda K, Druckmann S
    PLoS Computational Biology. 2020 Sep 15;16(9):e1008198. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008198

    Calcium imaging with fluorescent protein sensors is widely used to record activity in neuronal populations. The transform between neural activity and calcium-related fluorescence involves nonlinearities and low-pass filtering, but the effects of the transformation on analyses of neural populations are not well understood. We compared neuronal spikes and fluorescence in matched neural populations in behaving mice. We report multiple discrepancies between analyses performed on the two types of data, including changes in single-neuron selectivity and population decoding. These were only partially resolved by spike inference algorithms applied to fluorescence. To model the relation between spiking and fluorescence we simultaneously recorded spikes and fluorescence from individual neurons. Using these recordings we developed a model transforming spike trains to synthetic-imaging data. The model recapitulated the differences in analyses. Our analysis highlights challenges in relating electrophysiology and imaging data, and suggests forward modeling as an effective way to understand differences between these data.

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