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37 Publications

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    03/24/16 | Sensitive red protein calcium indicators for imaging neural activity.
    Dana H, Mohar B, Sun Y, Narayan S, Gordus A, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Holt GT, Hu A, Walpita D, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Bargmann CI, Ahrens MB, Schreiter ER, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    eLife. 2016 Mar 24;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12727

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) allow measurement of activity in large populations of neurons and in small neuronal compartments, over times of milliseconds to months. Although GFP-based GECIs are widely used for in vivo neurophysiology, GECIs with red-shifted excitation and emission spectra have advantages for in vivo imaging because of reduced scattering and absorption in tissue, and a consequent reduction in phototoxicity. However, current red GECIs are inferior to the state-of-the-art GFP-based GCaMP6 indicators for detecting and quantifying neural activity. Here we present improved red GECIs based on mRuby (jRCaMP1a, b) and mApple (jRGECO1a), with sensitivity comparable to GCaMP6. We characterized the performance of the new red GECIs in cultured neurons and in mouse, Drosophila, zebrafish and C. elegans in vivo. Red GECIs facilitate deep-tissue imaging, dual-color imaging together with GFP-based reporters, and the use of optogenetics in combination with calcium imaging.

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    11/01/15 | Structural basis for the antipolymer activity of Hb ζ22βsζ2βs2 trapped in a tense conformation.
    Safo MK, Ko T, Schreiter ER, Russell JE
    Journal of Molecular Structure. 2015 Nov;1099:99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.molstruc.2015.06.047

    The phenotypical severity of sickle cell disease (SCD) can be mitigated by modifying mutant hemoglobin S (Hb S, Hb α2β2s) to contain embryonic ζ globin in place of adult α-globin subunits (Hb ζ2β2s). Crystallographical analyses of liganded Hb ζζ2β2s, though, demonstrate a tense (T-state) quaternary structure that paradoxically predicts its participation in--rather than its exclusion from--pathological deoxyHb S polymers. We resolved this structure-function conundrum by examining the effects of α → ζ exchange on the characteristics of specific amino acids that mediate sickle polymer assembly. Superposition analyses of the βs subunits of T-state deoxyHb α2β2s and T-state CO-liganded Hb ζ2β2s reveal significant displacements of both mutant βsVal6 and conserved β-chain contact residues, predicting weakening of corresponding polymer-stabilizing interactions. Similar comparisons of the α- and ζ-globin subunits implicate four amino acids that are either repositioned or undergo non-conservative substitution, abrogating critical polymer contacts. CO-Hb ζ2βs2 additionally exhibits a unique trimer-of-heterotetramers crystal packing that is sustained by novel intermolecular interactions involving the pathological βsVal6, contrasting sharply with the classical double-stranded packing of deoxyHb S. Finally, the unusually large buried solvent-accessible surface area for CO-Hb ζ2β2s suggests that it does not co-assemble with deoxyHb S in vivo  . In sum, the antipolymer activities of Hb ζ2β2s appear to arise from both repositioning and replacement of specific α- and βs-chain residues, favoring an alternate T-state solution structure that is excluded from pathological deoxyHb S polymers. These data account for the antipolymer activity of Hb ζ2β2s, and recommend the utility of SCD therapeutics that capitalize on α-globin exchange strategies.

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    10/09/15 | A Low Affinity GCaMP3 Variant (GCaMPer) for Imaging the Endoplasmic Reticulum Calcium Store.
    Henderson MJ, Baldwin HA, Werley CA, Boccardo S, Whitaker LR, Yan X, Holt GT, Schreiter ER, Looger LL, Cohen AE, Kim DS, Harvey BK
    PloS one. 2015 Oct 09;10(10):e0139273. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139273

    Endoplasmic reticulum calcium homeostasis is critical for cellular functions and is disrupted in diverse pathologies including neurodegeneration and cardiovascular disease. Owing to the high concentration of calcium within the ER, studying this subcellular compartment requires tools that are optimized for these conditions. To develop a single-fluorophore genetically encoded calcium indicator for this organelle, we targeted a low affinity variant of GCaMP3 to the ER lumen (GCaMPer (10.19)). A set of viral vectors was constructed to express GCaMPer in human neuroblastoma cells, rat primary cortical neurons, and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. We observed dynamic changes in GCaMPer (10.19) fluorescence in response to pharmacologic manipulations of the ER calcium store. Additionally, periodic calcium efflux from the ER was observed during spontaneous beating of cardiomyocytes. GCaMPer (10.19) has utility in imaging ER calcium in living cells and providing insight into luminal calcium dynamics under physiologic and pathologic states.

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    Schreiter LabLooger Lab
    09/18/15 | Green-to-red photoconversion of GCaMP.
    Ai M, Mills H, Kanai M, Lai J, Deng J, Schreiter E, Looger L, Neubert T, Suh G
    PLoS One. 2015 Sep 18;10(9):e0138127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138127

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) permit imaging intracellular calcium transients. Among GECIs, the GFP-based GCaMPs are the most widely used because of their high sensitivity and rapid response to changes in intracellular calcium concentrations. Here we report that the fluorescence of GCaMPs-including GCaMP3, GCaMP5 and GCaMP6-can be converted from green to red following exposure to blue-green light (450-500 nm). This photoconversion occurs in both insect and mammalian cells and is enhanced in a low oxygen environment. The red fluorescent GCaMPs retained calcium responsiveness, albeit with reduced sensitivity. We identified several amino acid residues in GCaMP important for photoconversion and generated a GCaMP variant with increased photoconversion efficiency in cell culture. This light-induced spectral shift allows the ready labeling of specific, targeted sets of GCaMP-expressing cells for functional imaging in the red channel. Together, these findings indicate the potential for greater utility of existing GCaMP reagents, including transgenic animals.

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    02/13/15 | Labeling of active neural circuits in vivo with designed calcium integrators.
    Fosque BF, Sun Y, Dana H, Yang C, Ohyama T, Tadross MR, Patel R, Zlatic M, Kim DS, Ahrens MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Schreiter ER
    Science. 2015 Feb 13;347(6223):755-60. doi: 10.1126/science.1260922

    The identification of active neurons and circuits in vivo is a fundamental challenge in understanding the neural basis of behavior. Genetically encoded calcium (Ca(2+)) indicators (GECIs) enable quantitative monitoring of cellular-resolution activity during behavior. However, such indicators require online monitoring within a limited field of view. Alternatively, post hoc staining of immediate early genes (IEGs) indicates highly active cells within the entire brain, albeit with poor temporal resolution. We designed a fluorescent sensor, CaMPARI, that combines the genetic targetability and quantitative link to neural activity of GECIs with the permanent, large-scale labeling of IEGs, allowing a temporally precise "activity snapshot" of a large tissue volume. CaMPARI undergoes efficient and irreversible green-to-red conversion only when elevated intracellular Ca(2+) and experimenter-controlled illumination coincide. We demonstrate the utility of CaMPARI in freely moving larvae of zebrafish and flies, and in head-fixed mice and adult flies.

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    10/14/13 | A neuron-based screening platform for optimizing genetically-encoded calcium indicators.
    Wardill TJ, Chen T, Schreiter ER, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Fosque BF, Behnam R, Shields BC, Ramirez M, Kimmel BE, Kerr RA, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    PLoS One. 2013;8:e77728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077728

    Fluorescent protein-based sensors for detecting neuronal activity have been developed largely based on non-neuronal screening systems. However, the dynamics of neuronal state variables (e.g., voltage, calcium, etc.) are typically very rapid compared to those of non-excitable cells. We developed an electrical stimulation and fluorescence imaging platform based on dissociated rat primary neuronal cultures. We describe its use in testing genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs). Efficient neuronal GECI expression was achieved using lentiviruses containing a neuronal-selective gene promoter. Action potentials (APs) and thus neuronal calcium levels were quantitatively controlled by electrical field stimulation, and fluorescence images were recorded. Images were segmented to extract fluorescence signals corresponding to individual GECI-expressing neurons, which improved sensitivity over full-field measurements. We demonstrate the superiority of screening GECIs in neurons compared with solution measurements. Neuronal screening was useful for efficient identification of variants with both improved response kinetics and high signal amplitudes. This platform can be used to screen many types of sensors with cellular resolution under realistic conditions where neuronal state variables are in relevant ranges with respect to timing and amplitude.

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    10/01/13 | Structure of fully liganded Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) trapped in a tense conformation.
    Safo MK, Ko TP, Abdulmalik O, He ZN, Wang AH, Schreiter ER, Russell JE
    Acta Crystallographica Section D:Biological Crystallography. 2013 Oct;69(Pt 10):2061-71. doi: 10.1107/S0907444913019197

    A variant Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) that is formed from sickle hemoglobin (Hb S; alpha(2)beta(s)(2)) by exchanging adult alpha-globin with embryonic zeta-globin subunits shows promise as a therapeutic agent for sickle-cell disease (SCD). Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) inhibits the polymerization of deoxygenated Hb S in vitro and reverses characteristic features of SCD in vivo in mouse models of the disorder. When compared with either Hb S or with normal human adult Hb A (alpha(2)beta(2)), Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) exhibits atypical properties that include a high oxygen affinity, reduced cooperativity, a weak Bohr effect and blunted 2,3-diphosphoglycerate allostery. Here, the 1.95 angstrom resolution crystal structure of human Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) that was expressed in complex transgenic knockout mice and purified from their erythrocytes is presented. When fully liganded with carbon monoxide, Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) displays a central water cavity, a zeta 1-beta(s)2 (or zeta 2-beta(s)1) interface, intersubunit salt-bridge/hydrogen-bond interactions, C-terminal beta His146 salt-bridge interactions, and a beta-cleft, that are highly unusual for a relaxed hemoglobin structure and are more typical of a tense conformation. These quaternary tense-like features contrast with the tertiary relaxed-like conformations of the zeta 1-beta(s1) dimer and the CD and FG corners, as well as the overall structures of the heme cavities. This crystallographic study provides insights into the altered oxygen-transport properties of Hb zeta(2)beta(s)(2) and, moreover, decouples tertiary- and quaternary-structural events that are critical to Hb ligand binding and allosteric function.

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    Jayaraman LabLooger LabSvoboda LabSchreiter LabGENIE
    07/18/13 | Ultrasensitive fluorescent proteins for imaging neuronal activity.
    Chen T, Wardill TJ, Sun Y, Pulvar SR, Renninger SL, Baohan A, Schreiter ER, Kerr RA, Orger MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    Nature. 2013 Jul 18;499:295-300. doi: 10.1038/nature12354

    Fluorescent calcium sensors are widely used to image neural activity. Using structure-based mutagenesis and neuron-based screening, we developed a family of ultrasensitive protein calcium sensors (GCaMP6) that outperformed other sensors in cultured neurons and in zebrafish, flies and mice in vivo. In layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons of the mouse visual cortex, GCaMP6 reliably detected single action potentials in neuronal somata and orientation-tuned synaptic calcium transients in individual dendritic spines. The orientation tuning of structurally persistent spines was largely stable over timescales of weeks. Orientation tuning averaged across spine populations predicted the tuning of their parent cell. Although the somata of GABAergic neurons showed little orientation tuning, their dendrites included highly tuned dendritic segments (5–40-µm long). GCaMP6 sensors thus provide new windows into the organization and dynamics of neural circuits over multiple spatial and temporal scales.

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    03/04/13 | Genetically encoded calcium indicators for multi-color neural activity imaging and combination with optogenetics.
    Akerboom J, Carreras Calderón N, Tian L, Wabnig S, Prigge M, Tolö J, Gordus A, Orger MB, Severi KE, Macklin JJ, Patel R, Pulver SR, Wardill TJ, Fischer E, Schüler C, Chen T, Sarkisyan KS, Marvin JS, Bargmann CI, Kim DS, Kügler S, Lagnado L, Hegemann P, Gottschalk A, Schreiter ER, Looger LL
    Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience. 2013 Mar 4;6:2. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2013.00002

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) are powerful tools for systems neuroscience. Here we describe red, single-wavelength GECIs, "RCaMPs," engineered from circular permutation of the thermostable red fluorescent protein mRuby. High-resolution crystal structures of mRuby, the red sensor RCaMP, and the recently published red GECI R-GECO1 give insight into the chromophore environments of the Ca(2+)-bound state of the sensors and the engineered protein domain interfaces of the different indicators. We characterized the biophysical properties and performance of RCaMP sensors in vitro and in vivo in Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila larvae, and larval zebrafish. Further, we demonstrate 2-color calcium imaging both within the same cell (registering mitochondrial and somatic [Ca(2+)]) and between two populations of cells: neurons and astrocytes. Finally, we perform integrated optogenetics experiments, wherein neural activation via channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) or a red-shifted variant, and activity imaging via RCaMP or GCaMP, are conducted simultaneously, with the ChR2/RCaMP pair providing independently addressable spectral channels. Using this paradigm, we measure calcium responses of naturalistic and ChR2-evoked muscle contractions in vivo in crawling C. elegans. We systematically compare the RCaMP sensors to R-GECO1, in terms of action potential-evoked fluorescence increases in neurons, photobleaching, and photoswitching. R-GECO1 displays higher Ca(2+) affinity and larger dynamic range than RCaMP, but exhibits significant photoactivation with blue and green light, suggesting that integrated channelrhodopsin-based optogenetics using R-GECO1 may be subject to artifact. Finally, we create and test blue, cyan, and yellow variants engineered from GCaMP by rational design. This engineered set of chromatic variants facilitates new experiments in functional imaging and optogenetics.

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    Looger LabSvoboda LabLeonardo LabSchreiter LabGENIE
    02/01/13 | An optimized fluorescent probe for visualizing glutamate neurotransmission.
    Marvin JS, Borghuis BG, Tian L, Cichon J, Harnett MT, Akerboom J, Gordus A, Renninger SL, Chen T, Bargmann CI, Orger MB, Schreiter ER, Demb JB, Gan W, Hires SA, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2013 Feb;10:162-70. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2333

    We describe an intensity-based glutamate-sensing fluorescent reporter (iGluSnFR) with signal-to-noise ratio and kinetics appropriate for in vivo imaging. We engineered iGluSnFR in vitro to maximize its fluorescence change, and we validated its utility for visualizing glutamate release by neurons and astrocytes in increasingly intact neurological systems. In hippocampal culture, iGluSnFR detected single field stimulus-evoked glutamate release events. In pyramidal neurons in acute brain slices, glutamate uncaging at single spines showed that iGluSnFR responds robustly and specifically to glutamate in situ, and responses correlate with voltage changes. In mouse retina, iGluSnFR-expressing neurons showed intact light-evoked excitatory currents, and the sensor revealed tonic glutamate signaling in response to light stimuli. In worms, glutamate signals preceded and predicted postsynaptic calcium transients. In zebrafish, iGluSnFR revealed spatial organization of direction-selective synaptic activity in the optic tectum. Finally, in mouse forelimb motor cortex, iGluSnFR expression in layer V pyramidal neurons revealed task-dependent single-spine activity during running.

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