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32 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 32 results
12/23/19 | MeCP2 nuclear dynamics in live neurons results from low and high affinity chromatin interactions.
Piccolo FM, Liu Z, Dong P, Hsu C, Stoyanova EI, Rao A, Tjian R, Heintz N
eLife. 2019 Dec 23;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.51449

Methyl-CpG-binding-Protein 2 (MeCP2) is an abundant nuclear protein highly enriched in neurons. Here we report live-cell single-molecule imaging studies of the kinetic features of mouse MeCP2 at high spatial-temporal resolution. MeCP2 displays dynamic features that are distinct from both highly mobile transcription factors and immobile histones. Stable binding of MeCP2 in living neurons requires its methyl-binding domain and is sensitive to DNA modification levels. Diffusion of unbound MeCP2 is strongly constrained by weak, transient interactions mediated primarily by its AT-hook domains, and varies with the level of chromatin compaction and cell type. These findings extend previous studies of the role of the MeCP2 MBD in high affinity DNA binding to living neurons, and identify a new role for its AT-hooks domains as critical determinants of its kinetic behavior. They suggest that limited nuclear diffusion of MeCP2 in live neurons contributes to its local impact on chromatin structure and gene expression.

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12/18/19 | Phase separation of YAP reorganizes genome topology for long-term YAP target gene expression.
Cai D, Feliciano D, Dong P, Flores E, Gruebele M, Porat-Shliom N, Sukenik S, Liu Z, Lippincott-Schwartz J
Nature Cell Biology. 2019 Dec;21(12):1578-1589. doi: 10.1038/s41556-019-0433-z

Yes-associated protein (YAP) is a transcriptional co-activator that regulates cell proliferation and survival by binding to a select set of enhancers for target gene activation. How YAP coordinates these transcriptional responses is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that YAP forms liquid-like condensates in the nucleus. Formed within seconds of hyperosmotic stress, YAP condensates compartmentalized the YAP transcription factor TEAD1 and other YAP-related co-activators, including TAZ, and subsequently induced the transcription of YAP-specific proliferation genes. Super-resolution imaging using assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with photoactivated localization microscopy revealed that the YAP nuclear condensates were areas enriched in accessible chromatin domains organized as super-enhancers. Initially devoid of RNA polymerase II, the accessible chromatin domains later acquired RNA polymerase II, transcribing RNA. The removal of the intrinsically-disordered YAP transcription activation domain prevented the formation of YAP condensates and diminished downstream YAP signalling. Thus, dynamic changes in genome organization and gene activation during YAP reprogramming is mediated by liquid-liquid phase separation.

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09/01/19 | A neuron-glia Co-culture system for studying intercellular lipid transport.
Ioannou MS, Liu Z, Lippincott-Schwartz J
Curr Protoc Cell Biol. 2019 Sep 01;84(1):e95. doi: 10.1002/cpcb.95

Neurons and glia operate in a highly coordinated fashion in the brain. Although glial cells have long been known to supply lipids to neurons via lipoprotein particles, new evidence reveals that lipid transport between neurons and glia is bidirectional. Here, we describe a co-culture system to study transfer of lipids and lipid-associated proteins from neurons to glia. The assay entails culturing neurons and glia on separate coverslips, pulsing the neurons with fluorescently labeled fatty acids, and then incubating the coverslips together. As astrocytes internalize and store neuron-derived fatty acids in lipid droplets, analyzing the number, size, and fluorescence intensity of lipid droplets containing the fluorescent fatty acids provides an easy and quantifiable measure of fatty acid transport. © 2019 The Authors.

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08/13/19 | Bright and photostable chemigenetic indicators for extended in vivo voltage imaging.
Abdelfattah AS, Kawashima T, Singh A, Novak O, Liu H, Shuai Y, Huang Y, Campagnola L, Seeman SC, Yu J, Zheng J, Grimm JB, Patel R, Friedrich J, Mensh BD, Paninski L, Macklin JJ, Murphy GJ, Podgorski K, Lin B, Chen T, Turner GC, Liu Z, Koyama M, Svoboda K, Ahrens MB, Lavis LD, Schreiter ER
Science. 2019 Aug 13;365(6454):699-704. doi: 10.1126/science.aav6416

Imaging changes in membrane potential using genetically encoded fluorescent voltage indicators (GEVIs) has great potential for monitoring neuronal activity with high spatial and temporal resolution. Brightness and photostability of fluorescent proteins and rhodopsins have limited the utility of existing GEVIs. We engineered a novel GEVI, "Voltron", that utilizes bright and photostable synthetic dyes instead of protein-based fluorophores, extending the combined duration of imaging and number of neurons imaged simultaneously by more than tenfold relative to existing GEVIs. We used Voltron for in vivo voltage imaging in mice, zebrafish, and fruit flies. In mouse cortex, Voltron allowed single-trial recording of spikes and subthreshold voltage signals from dozens of neurons simultaneously, over 15 min of continuous imaging. In larval zebrafish, Voltron enabled the precise correlation of spike timing with behavior.

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06/21/19 | Spastin tethers lipid droplets to peroxisomes and directs fatty acid trafficking through ESCRT-III.
Chang C, Weigel AV, Ioannou MS, Pasolli HA, Xu CS, Peale DR, Shtengel G, Freeman M, Hess HF, Blackstone C, Lippincott-Schwartz J
Journal of Cell Biology. 2019 Jun 21;218(8):2583-99. doi: 10.1101/544023

Lipid droplets (LDs) are neutral lipid storage organelles that transfer lipids to various organelles including peroxisomes. Here, we show that the hereditary spastic paraplegia protein M1 Spastin, a membrane-bound AAA ATPase found on LDs, coordinates fatty acid (FA) trafficking from LDs to peroxisomes through two inter-related mechanisms. First, M1 Spastin forms a tethering complex with peroxisomal ABCD1 to promote LD-peroxisome contact formation. Second, M1 Spastin recruits the membrane-shaping ESCRT-III proteins IST1 and CHMP1B to LDs via its MIT domain to facilitate LD-to-peroxisome FA trafficking, possibly through IST1 and CHMP1B modifying LD membrane morphology. Furthermore, M1 Spastin, IST1 and CHMP1B are all required to relieve LDs of lipid peroxidation. The roles of M1 Spastin in tethering LDs to peroxisomes and in recruiting ESCRT-III components to LD-peroxisome contact sites for FA trafficking may help explain the pathogenesis of diseases associated with defective FA metabolism in LDs and peroxisomes.

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06/14/19 | NDP52 tunes cortical actin interaction with astral microtubules for accurate spindle orientation.
Yu H, Yang F, Dong P, Liao S, Liu WR, Zhao G, Qin B, Dou Z, Liu Z, Liu W, Zang J, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Liu X, Yao X
Cell Research. 2019 Jun 14;29(8):666-79. doi: 10.1038/s41422-019-0189-9

Oriented cell divisions are controlled by a conserved molecular cascade involving Gαi, LGN, and NuMA. Here, we show that NDP52 regulates spindle orientation via remodeling the polar cortical actin cytoskeleton. siRNA-mediated NDP52 suppression surprisingly revealed a ring-like compact subcortical F-actin architecture surrounding the spindle in prophase/prometaphase cells, which resulted in severe defects of astral microtubule growth and an aberrant spindle orientation. Remarkably, NDP52 recruited the actin assembly factor N-WASP and regulated the dynamics of the subcortical F-actin ring in mitotic cells. Mechanistically, NDP52 was found to bind to phosphatidic acid-containing vesicles, which absorbed cytoplasmic N-WASP to regulate local filamentous actin growth at the polar cortex. Our TIRFM analyses revealed that NDP52-containing vesicles anchored N-WASP and shortened the length of actin filaments in vitro. Based on these results we propose that NDP52-containing vesicles regulate cortical actin dynamics through N-WASP to accomplish a spatiotemporal regulation between astral microtubules and the actin network for proper spindle orientation and precise chromosome segregation. In this way, intracellular vesicles cooperate with microtubules and actin filaments to regulate proper mitotic progression. Since NDP52 is absent from yeast, we reason that metazoans have evolved an elaborate spindle positioning machinery to ensure accurate chromosome segregation in mitosis.

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05/30/19 | Neuron-astrocyte metabolic coupling protects against activity-induced fatty acid toxicity.
Ioannou MS, Jackson J, Sheu S, Chang C, Weigel AV, Liu H, Pasolli HA, Xu CS, Pang S, Matthies D, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Liu Z
Cell. 2019 May 30;177(6):1522-1535.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.04.001

Metabolic coordination between neurons and astrocytes is critical for the health of the brain. However, neuron-astrocyte coupling of lipid metabolism, particularly in response to neural activity, remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we demonstrate that toxic fatty acids (FAs) produced in hyperactive neurons are transferred to astrocytic lipid droplets by ApoE-positive lipid particles. Astrocytes consume the FAs stored in lipid droplets via mitochondrial β-oxidation in response to neuronal activity and turn on a detoxification gene expression program. Our findings reveal that FA metabolism is coupled in neurons and astrocytes to protect neurons from FA toxicity during periods of enhanced activity. This coordinated mechanism for metabolizing FAs could underlie both homeostasis and a variety of disease states of the brain.

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06/21/18 | Imaging dynamic and selective low-complexity domain interactions that control gene transcription.
Chong S, Dugast-Darzacq C, Liu Z, Dong P, Dailey GM, Cattoglio C, Heckert A, Banala S, Lavis L, Darzacq X, Tjian R
Science (New York, N.Y.). 2018 Jun 21;361(6400):eaar2555. doi: 10.1126/science.aar2555

Many eukaryotic transcription factors (TFs) contain intrinsically disordered low-complexity domains (LCDs), but how they drive transactivation remains unclear. Here, live-cell single-molecule imaging reveals that TF-LCDs form local high-concentration interaction hubs at synthetic and endogenous genomic loci. TF-LCD hubs stabilize DNA binding, recruit RNA polymerase II (Pol II), and activate transcription. LCD-LCD interactions within hubs are highly dynamic, display selectivity with binding partners, and are differentially sensitive to disruption by hexanediols. Under physiological conditions, rapid and reversible LCD-LCD interactions occur between TFs and the Pol II machinery without detectable phase separation. Our findings reveal fundamental mechanisms underpinning transcriptional control and suggest a framework for developing single-molecule imaging screens for novel drugs targeting gene regulatory interactions implicated in disease.

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03/18/18 | Model-free quantification and visualization of colocalization in fluorescence images.
Taylor AB, Ioannou MS, Aaron J, Chew T
Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology. 2018 Mar 13:. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.23356

The spatial association between fluorescently tagged biomolecules in situ provides valuable insight into their biological relationship. Within the limits of diffraction, such association can be measured using either Pearson's Correlation Coefficient (PCC) or Spearman's Rank Coefficient (SRC), which are designed to measure linear and monotonic correlations, respectively. However, the relationship between real biological signals is often more complex than these measures assume, rendering their results difficult to interpret. Here, we have adapted methods from the field of information theory to measure the association between two probes' concentrations based on their statistical dependence. Our approach is mathematically more general than PCC or SRC, making no assumptions about the type of relationship between the probes. We show that when applied to biological images, our measures provide more intuitive results that are also more robust to outliers and the presence of multiple relationships than PCC or SRC. We also devise a display technique to highlight regions in the input images where the probes' association is higher versus lower. We expect that our methods will allow biologists to more accurately and robustly quantify and visualize the association between two probes in a pair of fluorescence images. © 2018 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.

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01/29/18 | Visualizing transcription factor dynamics in living cells.
Liu Z, Tjian R
The Journal of Cell Biology. 2018 Jan 29;217(4):1181-91. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201710038

The assembly of sequence-specific enhancer-binding transcription factors (TFs) at cis-regulatory elements in the genome has long been regarded as the fundamental mechanism driving cell type-specific gene expression. However, despite extensive biochemical, genetic, and genomic studies in the past three decades, our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying enhancer-mediated gene regulation remains incomplete. Recent advances in imaging technologies now enable direct visualization of TF-driven regulatory events and transcriptional activities at the single-cell, single-molecule level. The ability to observe the remarkably dynamic behavior of individual TFs in live cells at high spatiotemporal resolution has begun to provide novel mechanistic insights and promises new advances in deciphering causal-functional relationships of TF targeting, genome organization, and gene activation. In this review, we review current transcription imaging techniques and summarize converging results from various lines of research that may instigate a revision of models to describe key features of eukaryotic gene regulation.

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