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1383 Janelia Publications

Showing 1261-1270 of 1383 results
01/01/10 | Quantum coherence in ion channels: resonances, transport and verification.
Vaziri A, Plenio MB
New Journal of Physics. 2010;12:. doi: 10.1088/1367-2630/12/8/085001

Recently it was demonstrated that long-lived quantum coherence exists during excitation energy transport in photosynthesis. It is a valid question up to which length, time and mass scales quantum coherence may extend, how one may detect this coherence and what, if any, role it plays in the dynamics of the system. Here we suggest that the selectivity filter of ion channels may exhibit quantum coherence, which might be relevant for the process of ion selectivity and conduction. We show that quantum resonances could provide an alternative approach to ultrafast two-dimensional (2D) spectroscopy to probe these quantum coherences. We demonstrate that the emergence of resonances in the conduction of ion channels that are modulated periodically by time-dependent external electric fields can serve as signatures of quantum coherence in such a system. Assessments of experimental feasibility and specific paths towards the experimental realization of such experiments are presented.

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01/01/10 | Role of Notch signaling in establishing the hemilineages of secondary neurons in Drosophila melanogaster.
Truman JW, Moats W, Altman J, Marin EC, Williams DW
Development. 2010 Jan;137(1):53-61. doi: 10.1242/dev.041749

The secondary neurons generated in the thoracic central nervous system of Drosophila arise from a hemisegmental set of 25 neuronal stem cells, the neuroblasts (NBs). Each NB undergoes repeated asymmetric divisions to produce a series of smaller ganglion mother cells (GMCs), which typically divide once to form two daughter neurons. We find that the two daughters of the GMC consistently have distinct fates. Using both loss-of-function and gain-of-function approaches, we examined the role of Notch signaling in establishing neuronal fates within all of the thoracic secondary lineages. In all cases, the ’A’ (Notch(ON)) sibling assumes one fate and the ’B’ (Notch(OFF)) sibling assumes another, and this relationship holds throughout the neurogenic period, resulting in two major neuronal classes: the A and B hemilineages. Apparent monotypic lineages typically result from the death of one sibling throughout the lineage, resulting in a single, surviving hemilineage. Projection neurons are predominantly from the B hemilineages, whereas local interneurons are typically from A hemilineages. Although sibling fate is dependent on Notch signaling, it is not necessarily dependent on numb, a gene classically involved in biasing Notch activation. When Numb was removed at the start of larval neurogenesis, both A and B hemilineages were still generated, but by the start of the third larval instar, the removal of Numb resulted in all neurons assuming the A fate. The need for Numb to direct Notch signaling correlated with a decrease in NB cell cycle time and may be a means for coping with multiple sibling pairs simultaneously undergoing fate decisions.

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01/01/10 | Scanning light-sheet microscopy in the whole mouse brain with HiLo background rejection.
Mertz J, Kim J
Journal of Biomedical Optics. 2010 Jan-Feb;15(1):016027. doi: 10.1117/1.3324890

It is well known that light-sheet illumination can enable optically sectioned wide-field imaging of macroscopic samples. However, the optical sectioning capacity of a light-sheet macroscope is undermined by sample-induced scattering or aberrations that broaden the thickness of the sheet illumination. We present a technique to enhance the optical sectioning capacity of a scanning light-sheet microscope by out-of-focus background rejection. The technique, called HiLo microscopy, makes use of two images sequentially acquired with uniform and structured sheet illumination. An optically sectioned image is then synthesized by fusing high and low spatial frequency information from both images. The benefits of combining light-sheet macroscopy and HiLo background rejection are demonstrated in optically cleared whole mouse brain samples, using both green fluorescent protein (GFP)-fluorescence and dark-field scattered light contrast.

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01/01/10 | Serial-section EM derived synaptic circuits in the fly’s visual system: the medulla opens up.
Meinertzhagen IA, Takemura S, Vitaladevuni S, Lu Z, Scheffer L, Chklovskii D
Journal of Neurogenetics. 2010;24:9
01/01/10 | Surprisingly simple mechanical behavior of a complex embryonic tissue.
von Dassow M, Strother JA, Davidson LA
PloS one. 2010;5(12):e15359. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015359

BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggest that mechanical feedback could coordinate morphogenetic events in embryos. Furthermore, embryonic tissues have complex structure and composition and undergo large deformations during morphogenesis. Hence we expect highly non-linear and loading-rate dependent tissue mechanical properties in embryos. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We used micro-aspiration to test whether a simple linear viscoelastic model was sufficient to describe the mechanical behavior of gastrula stage Xenopus laevis embryonic tissue in vivo. We tested whether these embryonic tissues change their mechanical properties in response to mechanical stimuli but found no evidence of changes in the viscoelastic properties of the tissue in response to stress or stress application rate. We used this model to test hypotheses about the pattern of force generation during electrically induced tissue contractions. The dependence of contractions on suction pressure was most consistent with apical tension, and was inconsistent with isotropic contraction. Finally, stiffer clutches generated stronger contractions, suggesting that force generation and stiffness may be coupled in the embryo. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The mechanical behavior of a complex, active embryonic tissue can be surprisingly well described by a simple linear viscoelastic model with power law creep compliance, even at high deformations. We found no evidence of mechanical feedback in this system. Together these results show that very simple mechanical models can be useful in describing embryo mechanics.

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01/01/10 | Tetracycline-controlled transgene activation using the ROSA26-iM2-GFP knock-in mouse strain permits GFP monitoring of DOX-regulated transgene-expression.
Wörtge S, Eshkind L, Cabezas-Wallscheid N, Lakaye B, Kim J, Heck R, Abassi Y, Diken M, Sprengel R, Bockamp E
BMC Developmental Biology. 2010;10:95. doi: 10.1186/1471-213X-10-95

BACKGROUND: Conditional gene activation is an efficient strategy for studying gene function in genetically modified animals. Among the presently available gene switches, the tetracycline-regulated system has attracted considerable interest because of its unique potential for reversible and adjustable gene regulation. RESULTS: To investigate whether the ubiquitously expressed Gt(ROSA)26Sor locus enables uniform DOX-controlled gene expression, we inserted the improved tetracycline-regulated transcription activator iM2 together with an iM2 dependent GFP gene into the Gt(ROSA)26Sor locus, using gene targeting to generate ROSA26-iM2-GFP (R26t1Δ) mice. Despite the presence of ROSA26 promoter driven iM2, R26t1Δ mice showed very sparse DOX-activated expression of different iM2-responsive reporter genes in the brain, mosaic expression in peripheral tissues and more prominent expression in erythroid, myeloid and lymphoid lineages, in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and in olfactory neurons. CONCLUSIONS: The finding that gene regulation by the DOX-activated transcriptional factor iM2 in the Gt(ROSA)26Sor locus has its limitations is of importance for future experimental strategies involving transgene activation from the endogenous ROSA26 promoter. Furthermore, our ROSA26-iM2 knock-in mouse model (R26t1Δ) represents a useful tool for implementing gene function in vivo especially under circumstances requiring the side-by-side comparison of gene manipulated and wild type cells. Since the ROSA26-iM2 mouse allows mosaic gene activation in peripheral tissues and haematopoietic cells, this model will be very useful for uncovering previously unknown or unsuspected phenotypes.

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Eddy/Rivas Lab
01/01/10 | The Pfam protein families database.
Finn RD, Mistry J, Tate J, Coggill P, Heger A, Pollington JE, Gavin OL, Gunasekaran P, Ceric G, Forslund K, Holm L, Sonnhammer EL, Eddy SR, Bateman A
Nucleic Acids Research. 2010 Jan;38:D211-22. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkp985

Pfam is a widely used database of protein families and domains. This article describes a set of major updates that we have implemented in the latest release (version 24.0). The most important change is that we now use HMMER3, the latest version of the popular profile hidden Markov model package. This software is approximately 100 times faster than HMMER2 and is more sensitive due to the routine use of the forward algorithm. The move to HMMER3 has necessitated numerous changes to Pfam that are described in detail. Pfam release 24.0 contains 11,912 families, of which a large number have been significantly updated during the past two years. Pfam is available via servers in the UK (, the USA ( and Sweden (

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12/22/09 | Nuclear receptor unfulfilled regulates axonal guidance and cell identity of Drosophila mushroom body neurons.
Lin S, Huang Y, Lee T
PLoS One. 2009 Dec 22;4(12):e8392. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008392

Nuclear receptors (NRs) comprise a family of ligand-regulated transcription factors that control diverse critical biological processes including various aspects of brain development. Eighteen NR genes exist in the Drosophila genome. To explore their roles in brain development, we knocked down individual NRs through the development of the mushroom bodies (MBs) by targeted RNAi. Besides recapitulating the known MB phenotypes for three NRs, we found that unfulfilled (unf), an ortholog of human photoreceptor specific nuclear receptor (PNR), regulates axonal morphogenesis and neuronal subtype identity. The adult MBs develop through remodeling of gamma neurons plus de-novo elaboration of both alpha’/beta’ and alpha/beta neurons. Notably, unf is largely dispensable for the initial elaboration of gamma neurons, but plays an essential role in their re-extension of axons after pruning during early metamorphosis. The subsequently derived MB neuron types also require unf for extension of axons beyond the terminus of the pruned bundle. Tracing single axons revealed misrouting rather than simple truncation. Further, silencing unf in single-cell clones elicited misguidance of axons in otherwise unperturbed MBs. Such axon guidance defects may occur as MB neurons partially lose their subtype identity, as evidenced by suppression of various MB subtype markers in unf knockdown MBs. In sum, unf governs axonal morphogenesis of multiple MB neuron types, possibly through regulating neuronal subtype identity.

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Menon Lab
12/15/09 | Distinct pose of discodermolide in taxol binding pocket drives a complementary mode of microtubule stabilization.
Khrapunovich-Baine M, Menon V, Verdier-Pinard P, Smith AB, Angeletti RH, Fiser A, Horwitz SB, Xiao H
Biochemistry. 2009 Dec 15;48(49):11664-77. doi: 10.1021/bi901351q

The microtubule cytoskeleton has proven to be an effective target for cancer therapeutics. One class of drugs, known as microtubule stabilizing agents (MSAs), binds to microtubule polymers and stabilizes them against depolymerization. The prototype of this group of drugs, Taxol, is an effective chemotherapeutic agent used extensively in the treatment of human ovarian, breast, and lung carcinomas. Although electron crystallography and photoaffinity labeling experiments determined that the binding site for Taxol is in a hydrophobic pocket in beta-tubulin, little was known about the effects of this drug on the conformation of the entire microtubule. A recent study from our laboratory utilizing hydrogen-deuterium exchange (HDX) in concert with various mass spectrometry (MS) techniques has provided new information on the structure of microtubules upon Taxol binding. In the current study we apply this technique to determine the binding mode and the conformational effects on chicken erythrocyte tubulin (CET) of another MSA, discodermolide, whose synthetic analogues may have potential use in the clinic. We confirmed that, like Taxol, discodermolide binds to the taxane binding pocket in beta-tubulin. However, as opposed to Taxol, which has major interactions with the M-loop, discodermolide orients itself away from this loop and toward the N-terminal H1-S2 loop. Additionally, discodermolide stabilizes microtubules mainly via its effects on interdimer contacts, specifically on the alpha-tubulin side, and to a lesser extent on interprotofilament contacts between adjacent beta-tubulin subunits. Also, our results indicate complementary stabilizing effects of Taxol and discodermolide on the microtubules, which may explain the synergy observed between the two drugs in vivo.

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Magee LabChklovskii Lab
12/01/09 | Experience-dependent compartmentalized dendritic plasticity in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons.
Makara JK, Losonczy A, Wen Q, Magee JC
Nature Neuroscience. 2009 Dec;12(12):1485-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.2428

The excitability of individual dendritic branches is a plastic property of neurons. We found that experience in an enriched environment increased propagation of dendritic Na(+) spikes in a subset of individual dendritic branches in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons and that this effect was mainly mediated by localized downregulation of A-type K(+) channel function. Thus, dendritic plasticity might be used to store recent experience in individual branches of the dendritic arbor.

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