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3 Janelia Publications

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    09/30/09 | Lessons from a compartmental model of a Drosophila neuron.
    Tuthill JC
    The Journal of Neuroscience: The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2009 Sep 30;29(39):12033-4. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3348-09.2009

    Although the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been a biological model organism for over a century, its emergence as a model system for the study of neurophysiology is comparatively recent. The primary reason for this is that the vinegar fly and its neurons are tiny; up until 5 years ago, it was prohibitively difficult to record intracellularly from individual neurons in the intact Drosophila brain (Wilson et al., 2004). Today, fly electrophysiologists can genetically label neurons with GFP and reliably record from many (but not all) neurons in the fruit fly brain. Using genetic tools to drive expression of fluorescent calcium indicators, light-sensitive ion channels, or cell activity suppressors, we are beginning to understand how the external environment is represented with electrical potentials in Drosophila neurons (for review, see Olsen and Wilson, 2008).

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    09/01/09 | A 3D digital atlas of C. elegans and its application to single-cell analyses.
    Long F, Peng H, Liu X, Kim SK, Myers E
    Nature Methods. 2009 Sep;6:667-72. doi: 10.1007/s12021-010-9090-x

    We built a digital nuclear atlas of the newly hatched, first larval stage (L1) of the wild-type hermaphrodite of Caenorhabditis elegans at single-cell resolution from confocal image stacks of 15 individual worms. The atlas quantifies the stereotypy of nuclear locations and provides other statistics on the spatial patterns of the 357 nuclei that could be faithfully segmented and annotated out of the 558 present at this developmental stage. We then developed an automated approach to assign cell names to each nucleus in a three-dimensional image of an L1 worm. We achieved 86% accuracy in identifying the 357 nuclei automatically. This computational method will allow high-throughput single-cell analyses of the post-embryonic worm, such as gene expression analysis, or ablation or stimulation of cells under computer control in a high-throughput functional screen.

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    09/01/09 | Experience-dependent structural synaptic plasticity in the mammalian brain.
    Holtmaat A, Svoboda K
    Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 2009 Sep;10(9):647-58. doi: 10.1038/nrn2699

    Synaptic plasticity in adult neural circuits may involve the strengthening or weakening of existing synapses as well as structural plasticity, including synapse formation and elimination. Indeed, long-term in vivo imaging studies are beginning to reveal the structural dynamics of neocortical neurons in the normal and injured adult brain. Although the overall cell-specific morphology of axons and dendrites, as well as of a subpopulation of small synaptic structures, are remarkably stable, there is increasing evidence that experience-dependent plasticity of specific circuits in the somatosensory and visual cortex involves cell type-specific structural plasticity: some boutons and dendritic spines appear and disappear, accompanied by synapse formation and elimination, respectively. This Review focuses on recent evidence for such structural forms of synaptic plasticity in the mammalian cortex and outlines open questions.

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