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113 Publications

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    07/08/22 | Melding Synthetic Molecules and Genetically Encoded Proteins to Forge New Tools for Neuroscience.
    Kumar P, Lavis LD
    Annual Review Neuroscience. 2022 Jul 08;45:131-150. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-110520-030031

    Unraveling the complexity of the brain requires sophisticated methods to probe and perturb neurobiological processes with high spatiotemporal control. The field of chemical biology has produced general strategies to combine the molecular specificity of small-molecule tools with the cellular specificity of genetically encoded reagents. Here, we survey the application, refinement, and extension of these hybrid small-molecule:protein methods to problems in neuroscience, which yields powerful reagents to precisely measure and manipulate neural systems.

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    07/03/22 | Multifunctional fluorophores for live-cell imaging and affinity capture of proteins
    Kumar P, Jason D. Vevea , Edwin R. Chapman , Luke D. Lavis
    bioRxiv. 2022 Jul 03:. doi: 10.1101/2022.07.02.498544

    The development of enzyme-based self-labeling tags allow the labeling of proteins in living cells with synthetic small-molecules. Use of a fluorophore-containing ligand enables the visualization of protein location inside cells using fluorescence microscopy. Alternatively, deployment of a biotin-containing ligand allows purification of tagged protein using affinity resins. Despite these various applications of self-labeling tags, most ligands serve a single purpose. Here, we describe self-labeling tag ligands that allow both visualization and subsequent capture of a protein. A key design principle is exploiting the chemical properties and size of a rhodamine fluorophore to optimize cell-permeability of the ligand and the capture efficiency of the biotin conjugate. This work generates useful “multifunctional” fluorophores with generalizable design principles that will allow the construction of new tools for biology.

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    07/01/22 | Kinetic principles underlying pioneer function of GAGA transcription factor in live cells.
    Tang X, Li T, Liu S, Wisniewski J, Zheng Q, Rong Y, Lavis LD, Wu C
    Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. 2022 Jul 01;29(7):665-676. doi: 10.1038/s41594-022-00800-z

    How pioneer factors interface with chromatin to promote accessibility for transcription control is poorly understood in vivo. Here, we directly visualize chromatin association by the prototypical GAGA pioneer factor (GAF) in live Drosophila hemocytes. Single-particle tracking reveals that most GAF is chromatin bound, with a stable-binding fraction showing nucleosome-like confinement residing on chromatin for more than 2 min, far longer than the dynamic range of most transcription factors. These kinetic properties require the full complement of GAF's DNA-binding, multimerization and intrinsically disordered domains, and are autonomous from recruited chromatin remodelers NURF and PBAP, whose activities primarily benefit GAF's neighbors such as Heat Shock Factor. Evaluation of GAF kinetics together with its endogenous abundance indicates that, despite on-off dynamics, GAF constitutively and fully occupies major chromatin targets, thereby providing a temporal mechanism that sustains open chromatin for transcriptional responses to homeostatic, environmental and developmental signals.

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    06/15/22 | 2,7-Diaminobenzopyrylium Dyes Are Live-Cell Mitochondrial Stains2,7-Diaminobenzopyrylium Dyes Are Live-Cell Mitochondrial Stains
    Banala S, Tkachuk AN, Patel R, Kumar P, Brown TA, Lavis LD
    ACS Bio & Med Chem Au. 2022 Jun 15;2(3):307-12. doi: 10.1021/acsbiomedchemau.1c00068

    Small-molecule fluorescent stains enable the imaging of cellular structures without the need for genetic manipulation. Here, we introduce 2,7-diaminobenzopyrylium (DAB) dyes as live-cell mitochondrial stains excited with violet light. This amalgam of the coumarin and rhodamine fluorophore structures yields dyes with high photostability and tunable spectral properties.

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    05/03/22 | Bromodomains regulate dynamic targeting of the PBAF chromatin remodeling complex to chromatin hubs.
    Kenworthy CA, Haque N, Liou S, Chandris P, Wong V, Dziuba P, Lavis LD, Liu W, Singer RH, Coleman RA
    Biophysical Journal. 2022 May 3;121(9):1738-1752. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2022.03.027

    Chromatin remodelers actively target arrays of acetylated nucleosomes at select enhancers and promoters to facilitate or shut down the repeated recruitment of RNA Pol II during transcriptional bursting. It is poorly understood how chromatin remodelers such as PBAF dynamically target different chromatin states inside a live cell. Our live-cell single molecule fluorescence microscopy study reveals chromatin hubs throughout the nucleus where PBAF rapidly cycles on and off the genome. Deletion of PBAF's bromodomains impairs targeting and stable engagement of chromatin in hubs. Dual color imaging reveals that PBAF targets both euchromatic and heterochromatic hubs with distinct genome binding kinetic profiles that mimic chromatin stability. Removal of PBAF's bromodomains stabilizes H3.3 binding within chromatin indicating that bromodomains may play a direct role in remodeling of the nucleosome. Our data suggests that PBAF's dynamic bromodomain mediated engagement of a nucleosome may reflect the chromatin remodeling potential of differentially bound chromatin states.

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    02/28/22 | Melding Synthetic Molecules and Genetically Encoded Proteins to Forge New Tools for Neuroscience.
    Kumar P, Lavis LD
    Annual Review of Neuroscience. 2022 Feb 28:. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-110520-030031

    Unraveling the complexity of the brain requires sophisticated methods to probe and perturb neurobiological processes with high spatiotemporal control. The field of chemical biology has produced general strategies to combine the molecular specificity of small-molecule tools with the cellular specificity of genetically encoded reagents. Here, we survey the application, refinement, and extension of these hybrid small-molecule:protein methods to problems in neuroscience, which yields powerful reagents to precisely measure and manipulate neural systems. Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 45 is July 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

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    02/28/22 | Melding Synthetic Molecules and Genetically Encoded Proteins to Forge New Tools for Neuroscience.
    Kumar P, Lavis LD
    Annual Review Neuroscience. 2022 Feb 28:. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-110520-030031

    Unraveling the complexity of the brain requires sophisticated methods to probe and perturb neurobiological processes with high spatiotemporal control. The field of chemical biology has produced general strategies to combine the molecular specificity of small-molecule tools with the cellular specificity of genetically encoded reagents. Here, we survey the application, refinement, and extension of these hybrid small-molecule:protein methods to problems in neuroscience, which yields powerful reagents to precisely measure and manipulate neural systems. Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 45 is July 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

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    02/07/22 | The complexin C-terminal amphipathic helix stabilizes the fusion pore open state by sculpting membranes.
    Courtney KC, Wu L, Mandal T, Swift M, Zhang Z, Alaghemandi M, Wu Z, Bradberry MM, Deo C, Lavis LD, Volkmann N, Hanein D, Cui Q, Bao H, Chapman ER
    Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2022 Feb 07;29(2):97-107. doi: 10.1038/s41594-021-00716-0

    Neurotransmitter release is mediated by proteins that drive synaptic vesicle fusion with the presynaptic plasma membrane. While soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) form the core of the fusion apparatus, additional proteins play key roles in the fusion pathway. Here, we report that the C-terminal amphipathic helix of the mammalian accessory protein, complexin (Cpx), exerts profound effects on membranes, including the formation of pores and the efficient budding and fission of vesicles. Using nanodisc-black lipid membrane electrophysiology, we demonstrate that the membrane remodeling activity of Cpx modulates the structure and stability of recombinant exocytic fusion pores. Cpx had particularly strong effects on pores formed by small numbers of SNAREs. Under these conditions, Cpx increased the current through individual pores 3.5-fold, and increased the open time fraction from roughly 0.1 to 1.0. We propose that the membrane sculpting activity of Cpx contributes to the phospholipid rearrangements that underlie fusion by stabilizing highly curved membrane fusion intermediates.

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    02/01/22 | Caveat fluorophore: an insiders' guide to small-molecule fluorescent labels.
    Grimm JB, Lavis LD
    Nature Methods. 2022 Feb 01;19(2):149-58. doi: 10.1038/s41592-021-01338-6

    The last three decades have brought a revolution in fluorescence microscopy. The development of new microscopes, fluorescent labels and analysis techniques has pushed the frontiers of biological imaging forward, moving from fixed to live cells, from diffraction-limited to super-resolution imaging and from simple cell culture systems to experiments in vivo. The large and ever-evolving collection of tools can be daunting for biologists, who must invest substantial time and effort in adopting new technologies to answer their specific questions. This is particularly relevant when working with small-molecule fluorescent labels, where users must navigate the jargon, idiosyncrasies and caveats of chemistry. Here, we present an overview of chemical dyes used in biology and provide frank advice from a chemist's perspective.

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    Lavis LabLooger Lab
    12/23/20 | Directed Evolution of a Selective and Sensitive Serotonin Sensor via Machine Learning.
    Unger EK, Keller JP, Altermatt M, Liang R, Matsui A, Dong C, Hon OJ, Yao Z, Sun J, Banala S, Flanigan ME, Jaffe DA, Hartanto S, Carlen J, Mizuno GO, Borden PM, Shivange AV, Cameron LP, Sinning S, Underhill SM, Olson DE, Amara SG, Temple Lang D, Rudnick G, Marvin JS, Lavis LD, Lester HA, Alvarez VA, Fisher AJ, Prescher JA, Kash TL, Yarov-Yarovoy V, Gradinaru V, Looger LL, Tian L
    Cell. 2020 Dec 23;183(7):1986-2002.e26. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.11.040

    Serotonin plays a central role in cognition and is the target of most pharmaceuticals for psychiatric disorders. Existing drugs have limited efficacy; creation of improved versions will require better understanding of serotonergic circuitry, which has been hampered by our inability to monitor serotonin release and transport with high spatial and temporal resolution. We developed and applied a binding-pocket redesign strategy, guided by machine learning, to create a high-performance, soluble, fluorescent serotonin sensor (iSeroSnFR), enabling optical detection of millisecond-scale serotonin transients. We demonstrate that iSeroSnFR can be used to detect serotonin release in freely behaving mice during fear conditioning, social interaction, and sleep/wake transitions. We also developed a robust assay of serotonin transporter function and modulation by drugs. We expect that both machine-learning-guided binding-pocket redesign and iSeroSnFR will have broad utility for the development of other sensors and in vitro and in vivo serotonin detection, respectively.

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