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17 Publications

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    12/01/20 | A programmable sequence of reporters for lineage analysis.
    Garcia-Marques J, Isabel Espinosa Medina , Ku K, Yang C, Koyama M, Yu H, Lee T
    Nature Neuroscience. 2020 Dec 01;23(12):1618-28. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0676-9

    We present CLADES (cell lineage access driven by an edition sequence), a technology for cell lineage studies based on CRISPR-Cas9 techniques. CLADES relies on a system of genetic switches to activate and inactivate reporter genes in a predetermined order. Targeting CLADES to progenitor cells allows the progeny to inherit a sequential cascade of reporters, thereby coupling birth order to reporter expression. This system, which can also be temporally induced by heat shock, enables the temporal resolution of lineage development and can therefore be used to deconstruct an extended cell lineage by tracking the reporters expressed in the progeny. When targeted to the germ line, the same cascade progresses across animal generations, predominantly marking each generation with the corresponding combination of reporters. CLADES therefore offers an innovative strategy for making programmable cascades of genes that can be used for genetic manipulation or to record serial biological events.

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    11/27/20 | Super-resolution ophthalmoscopy: Virtually structured detection for resolution improvement in retinal imaging.
    Yao X, Lu R, Wang B, Lu Y, Kim T
    Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood). 2020 Nov 27:1535370220970533. doi: 10.1177/1535370220970533

    Quantitative retinal imaging is essential for advanced study and clinical management of eye diseases. However, spatial resolution of retinal imaging has been limited due to available numerical aperture and optical aberration of the ocular optics. Structured illumination microscopy has been established to break the diffraction-limit resolution in conventional light microscopy. However, practical implementation of structured illumination microscopy for ophthalmoscopy of the retina is challenging due to inevitable eye movements that can produce phase artifacts. Recently, we have demonstrated the feasibility of using virtually structured detection as one alternative to structured illumination microscopy for super-resolution imaging. By providing the flexibility of digital compensation of eye movements, the virtually structured detection provides a feasible, phase-artifact-free strategy to achieve super-resolution ophthalmoscopy. In this article, we summarize the technical rationale of virtually structured detection, and its implementations for super-resolution imaging of freshly isolated retinas, intact animals, and awake human subjects.

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    11/26/20 | The art of lineage tracing: from worm to human.
    Garcia-Marques J, Isabel Espinosa Medina , Lee T
    Progress in Neurobiology. 2020 Nov 26:101966. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2020.101966

    Reconstructing the genealogy of every cell that makes up an organism remains a long-standing challenge in developmental biology. Besides its relevance for understanding the mechanisms underlying normal and pathological development, resolving the lineage origin of cell types will be crucial to create these types on-demand. Multiple strategies have been deployed towards the problem of lineage tracing, ranging from direct observation to sophisticated genetic approaches. Here we discuss the achievements and limitations of past and current technology. Finally, we speculate about the future of lineage tracing and how to reach the next milestones in the field.

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    11/25/20 | Theoretical principles for illuminating sensorimotor processing with brain-wide neuronal recordings.
    Biswas T, Bishop WE, Fitzgerald JE
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2020 Nov 25;65:138-145. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2020.10.021

    Modern recording techniques now permit brain-wide sensorimotor circuits to be observed at single neuron resolution in small animals. Extracting theoretical understanding from these recordings requires principles that organize findings and guide future experiments. Here we review theoretical principles that shed light onto brain-wide sensorimotor processing. We begin with an analogy that conceptualizes principles as streetlamps that illuminate the empirical terrain, and we illustrate the analogy by showing how two familiar principles apply in new ways to brain-wide phenomena. We then focus the bulk of the review on describing three more principles that have wide utility for mapping brain-wide neural activity, making testable predictions from highly parameterized mechanistic models, and investigating the computational determinants of neuronal response patterns across the brain.

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    11/24/20 | Improved genetically encoded near-infrared fluorescent calcium ion indicators for in vivo imaging.
    Qian Y, Cosio DM, Piatkevich KD, Aufmkolk S, Su W, Celiker OT, Schohl A, Murdock MH, Aggarwal A, Chang Y, Wiseman PW, Ruthazer ES, Boyden ES, Campbell RE
    PLoS Biology. 2020 Nov 24;18(11):e3000965. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000965

    Near-infrared (NIR) genetically encoded calcium ion (Ca2+) indicators (GECIs) can provide advantages over visible wavelength fluorescent GECIs in terms of reduced phototoxicity, minimal spectral cross talk with visible light excitable optogenetic tools and fluorescent probes, and decreased scattering and absorption in mammalian tissues. Our previously reported NIR GECI, NIR-GECO1, has these advantages but also has several disadvantages including lower brightness and limited fluorescence response compared to state-of-the-art visible wavelength GECIs, when used for imaging of neuronal activity. Here, we report 2 improved NIR GECI variants, designated NIR-GECO2 and NIR-GECO2G, derived from NIR-GECO1. We characterized the performance of the new NIR GECIs in cultured cells, acute mouse brain slices, and Caenorhabditis elegans and Xenopus laevis in vivo. Our results demonstrate that NIR-GECO2 and NIR-GECO2G provide substantial improvements over NIR-GECO1 for imaging of neuronal Ca2+ dynamics.

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    11/18/20 | Spatial readout of visual looming in the central brain of Drosophila.
    Morimoto MM, Nern A, Zhao A, Rogers EM, Wong A, Isaacson MD, Bock D, Rubin GM, Reiser MB
    eLife. 2020 Nov 18;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.57685

    Visual systems can exploit spatial correlations in the visual scene by using retinotopy. However, retinotopy is often lost, such as when visual pathways are integrated with other sensory modalities. How is spatial information processed outside of strictly visual brain areas? Here, we focused on visual looming responsive LC6 cells in , a population whose dendrites collectively cover the visual field, but whose axons form a single glomerulus-a structure without obvious retinotopic organization-in the central brain. We identified multiple cell types downstream of LC6 in the glomerulus and found that they more strongly respond to looming in different portions of the visual field, unexpectedly preserving spatial information. Through EM reconstruction of all LC6 synaptic inputs to the glomerulus, we found that LC6 and downstream cell types form circuits within the glomerulus that enable spatial readout of visual features and contralateral suppression-mechanisms that transform visual information for behavioral control.

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    11/17/20 | Multi-regional circuits underlying visually guided decision-making in Drosophila.
    Cheong H, Siwanowicz I, Card GM
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2020 Nov 17;65:77-87. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2020.10.010

    Visually guided decision-making requires integration of information from distributed brain areas, necessitating a brain-wide approach to examine its neural mechanisms. New tools in Drosophila melanogaster enable circuits spanning the brain to be charted with single cell-type resolution. Here, we highlight recent advances uncovering the computations and circuits that transform and integrate visual information across the brain to make behavioral choices. Visual information flows from the optic lobes to three primary central brain regions: a sensorimotor mapping area and two 'higher' centers for memory or spatial orientation. Rapid decision-making during predator evasion emerges from the spike timing dynamics in parallel sensorimotor cascades. Goal-directed decisions may occur through memory, navigation and valence processing in the central complex and mushroom bodies.

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    Looger Lab
    11/15/20 | Extracellular glutamate and GABA transients at the transition from interictal spiking to seizures
    Yoshiteru Shimoda , Vincent Magloire , Jonathan S Marvin , Marco Leite , Loren L Looger , Dimitri M Kullmann
    bioRxiv. 2020 Nov 15:. doi: 10.1101/2020.11.13.381707

    Focal epilepsy is associated with intermittent brief population discharges (interictal spikes), which resemble sentinel spikes that often occur at the onset of seizures. Why interictal spikes self-terminate whilst seizures persist and propagate is incompletely understood. Here we use fluorescent glutamate and GABA sensors in an awake rodent model of neocortical seizures to resolve the spatiotemporal evolution of both neurotransmitters in the extracellular space. Interictal spikes are accompanied by brief glutamate transients which are maximal at the initiation site and rapidly propagate centrifugally. GABA transients last longer than glutamate transients and are maximal ~1.5 mm from the focus where they propagate centripetally. At the transition to seizures, GABA transients are attenuated, whilst glutamate transients increase in spatial extent. The data imply that an annulus of feed-forward GABA release intermittently collapses, allowing seizures to escape from local inhibitory restraint.

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    12/01/20 | Linking axon morphology to gene expression: a strategy for neuronal cell-type classification.
    Winnubst J, Spruston N, Harris JA
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2020 Dec 01;65:70-76. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2020.10.006

    To study how the brain drives cognition and behavior we need to understand its cellular composition. Advances in single-cell transcriptomics have revolutionized our ability to characterize neuronal diversity. To arrive at meaningful descriptions of cell types, however, gene expression must be linked to structural and functional properties. Axonal projection patterns are an appropriate measure, as they are diverse, change only gradually over time, and they influence and constrain circuit function. Here, we consider how efforts to map transcriptional and morphological diversity in the mouse brain could be linked to generate a modern taxonomy of the mouse brain.

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    11/11/20 | Optimized Vivid-derived Magnets photodimerizers for subcellular optogenetics in mammalian cells.
    Benedetti L, Marvin JS, Falahati H, Guillén-Samander A, Looger LL, De Camilli P
    Elife. 2020 Nov 11;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63230

    Light-inducible dimerization protein modules enable precise temporal and spatial control of biological processes in non-invasive fashion. Among them, Magnets are small modules engineered from the photoreceptor Vivid by orthogonalizing the homodimerization interface into complementary heterodimers. Both Magnets components, which are well-tolerated as protein fusion partners, are photoreceptors requiring simultaneous photoactivation to interact, enabling high spatiotemporal confinement of dimerization with a single-excitation wavelength. However, Magnets require concatemerization for efficient responses and cell preincubation at 28C to be functional. Here we overcome these limitations by engineering an optimized Magnets pair requiring neither concatemerization nor low temperature preincubation. We validated these 'enhanced' Magnets (eMags) by using them to rapidly and reversibly recruit proteins to subcellular organelles, to induce organelle contacts, and to reconstitute OSBP-VAP ER-Golgi tethering implicated in phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate transport and metabolism. eMags represent a very effective tool to optogenetically manipulate physiological processes over whole cells or in small subcellular volumes.

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