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16 Janelia Publications

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    Ji Lab
    03/31/17 | Adaptive optical fluorescence microscopy.
    Ji N
    Nature Methods. 2017 Mar 31;14(4):374-380. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.4218

    The past quarter century has witnessed rapid developments of fluorescence microscopy techniques that enable structural and functional imaging of biological specimens at unprecedented depth and resolution. The performance of these methods in multicellular organisms, however, is degraded by sample-induced optical aberrations. Here I review recent work on incorporating adaptive optics, a technology originally applied in astronomical telescopes to combat atmospheric aberrations, to improve image quality of fluorescence microscopy for biological imaging.

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    03/31/17 | Automatic tracing of ultra-volumes of neuronal images.
    Peng H, Zhou Z, Meijering E, Zhao T, Ascoli GA, Hawrylycz M
    Nature Methods. 2017 Mar 31;14(4):332-333. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.4233
    Zlatic Lab
    03/31/17 | Facilitating neuron-specific genetic manipulations in Drosophila using a split GAL4 repressor.
    Dolan M, Luan H, Shropshire WC, Sutcliffe B, Cocanougher B, Scott RL, Frechter S, Zlatic M, Jefferis GS, White BH
    Genetics. 2017 Mar 31;206(2):775-84. doi: 10.1534/genetics.116.199687

    Efforts to map neural circuits have been galvanized by the development of genetic technologies that permit the manipulation of targeted sets of neurons in the brains of freely behaving animals. The success of these efforts relies on the experimenter's ability to target arbitrarily small subsets of neurons for manipulation, but such specificity of targeting cannot routinely be achieved using existing methods. In Drosophila melanogaster, a widely used technique for refined cell-type specific manipulation is the Split GAL4 system, which augments the targeting specificity of the binary GAL4-UAS system by making GAL4 transcriptional activity contingent upon two enhancers, rather than one. To permit more refined targeting, we introduce here the "Killer Zipper" (KZip(+)), a suppressor that makes Split GAL4 targeting contingent upon a third enhancer. KZip(+) acts by disrupting both the formation and activity of Split GAL4 heterodimers, and we show how this added layer of control can be used to selectively remove unwanted cells from a Split GAL4 expression pattern or to subtract neurons of interest from a pattern to determine their requirement in generating a given phenotype. To facilitate application of the KZip(+) technology, we have developed a versatile set of LexAop-KZip(+) fly lines that can be used directly with the large number of LexA driver lines with known expression patterns. The Killer Zipper significantly sharpens the precision of neuronal genetic control available in Drosophila and may be extended to other organisms where Split GAL4-like systems are used.

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    Cardona Lab
    03/29/17 | Trainable Weka Segmentation: a machine learning tool for microscopy pixel classification.
    Arganda-Carreras I, Kaynig V, Rueden C, Eliceiri KW, Schindelin J, Cardona A, Seung HS
    Bioinformatics (Oxford, England). 2017 Mar 29;33(15):2424-6. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btx180

    Summary: State-of-the-art light and electron microscopes are capable of acquiring large image datasets, but quantitatively evaluating the data often involves manually annotating structures of interest. This processis time-consuming and often a major bottleneck in the evaluation pipeline. To overcome this problem, we have introduced the Trainable Weka Segmentation (TWS), a machine learning tool that leveragesa limited number of manual annotations in order to train a classifier and segment the remaining dataautomatically. In addition, TWS can provide unsupervised segmentation learning schemes (clustering) and can be customized to employ user-designed image features or classifiers.

    Availability and Implementation: TWS is distributed as open-source software as part of the Fiji image processing distribution of ImageJ at


    Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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    03/28/17 | Heuristic rules underlying dragonfly prey selection and interception.
    Lin H, Leonardo A
    Current Biology : CB. 2017 Mar 28;27(8):1124-37. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.010

    Animals use rules to initiate behaviors. Such rules are often described as triggers that determine when behavior begins. However, although less explored, these selection rules are also an opportunity to establish sensorimotor constraints that influence how the behavior ends. These constraints may be particularly significant in influencing success in prey capture. Here we explore this in dragonfly prey interception. We found that in the moments leading up to takeoff, perched dragonflies employ a series of sensorimotor rules that determine the time of takeoff and increase the probability of successful capture. First, the dragonfly makes a head saccade followed by smooth pursuit movements to orient its direction-of-gaze at potential prey. Second, the dragonfly assesses whether the prey's angular size and speed co-vary within a privileged range. Finally, the dragonfly times the moment of its takeoff to a prediction of when the prey will cross the zenith. Each of these processes serves a purpose. The angular size-speed criteria biases interception flights to catchable prey, while the head movements and the predictive takeoff ensure flights begin with the prey visually fixated and directly overhead-the key parameters that underlie interception steering. Prey that do not elicit takeoff generally fail at least one of the criterion, and the loss of prey fixation or overhead positioning during flight is strongly correlated with terminated flights. Thus from an abundance of potential targets, the dragonfly selects a stereotyped set of takeoff conditions based on the prey and body states most likely to end in successful capture.

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    03/16/17 | Mechanism of ribosome rescue by ArfA and RF2.
    Demo G, Svidritskiy E, Madireddy R, Diaz-Avalos R, Grant T, Grigorieff N, Sousa D, Korostelev AA
    eLife. 2017 Mar 16;6:e23687. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23687

    ArfA rescues ribosomes stalled on truncated mRNAs by recruiting release factor RF2, which normally binds stop codons to catalyze peptide release. We report two 3.2-Å resolution cryo-EM structures - determined from a single sample - of the 70S ribosome with ArfA•RF2 in the A site. In both states, the ArfA C-terminus occupies the mRNA tunnel downstream of the A site. One state contains a compact inactive RF2 conformation. Ordering of the ArfA N-terminus in the second state rearranges RF2 into an extended conformation that docks the catalytic GGQ motif into the peptidyl-transferase center. Our work thus reveals the structural dynamics of ribosome rescue. The structures demonstrate how ArfA "senses" the vacant mRNA tunnel and activates RF2 to mediate peptide release without a stop codon, allowing stalled ribosomes to be recycled.

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    03/15/17 | Confirmation of five novel susceptibility loci for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and integrated network analysis of 82 SLE susceptibility loci.
    Molineros JE, Yang W, Zhou X, Sun C, Okada Y, Zhang H, Heng Chua K, Lau Y, Kochi Y, Suzuki A, Yamamoto K, Ma J, Bang S, Lee H, Kim K, Bae S, Zhang H, Shen N, Looger LL, Nath SK
    Human Molecular Genetics. 2017 Mar 15;26(6):1205-1216. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddx026

    We recently identified ten novel SLE susceptibility loci in Asians and uncovered several additional suggestive loci requiring further validation. This study aimed to replicate five of these suggestive loci in a Han Chinese cohort from Hong Kong, followed by meta-analysis (11,656 cases and 23,968 controls) on previously reported Asian and European populations, and to perform bioinformatic analyses on all 82 reported SLE loci to identify shared regulatory signatures. We performed a battery of analyses for these five loci, as well as joint analyses on all 82 SLE loci. All five loci passed genome-wide significance: MYNN (rs10936599, Pmeta = 1.92 × 10-13, OR = 1.14), ATG16L2 (rs11235604, Pmeta = 8.87 × 10 -12, OR = 0.78), CCL22 (rs223881, Pmeta = 5.87 × 10-16, OR = 0.87), ANKS1A (rs2762340, Pmeta = 4.93 × 10-15, OR = 0.87) and RNASEH2C (rs1308020, Pmeta = 2.96 × 10-19, OR = 0.84) and co-located with annotated gene regulatory elements. The novel loci share genetic signatures with other reported SLE loci, including effects on gene expression, transcription factor binding, and epigenetic characteristics. Most (56%) of the correlated (r2 > 0.8) SNPs from the 82 SLE loci were implicated in differential expression (9.81 × 10-198 < P < 5 × 10-3) of cis-genes. Transcription factor binding sites for p53, MEF2A and E2F1 were significantly (P < 0.05) over-represented in SLE loci, consistent with apoptosis playing a critical role in SLE. Enrichment analysis revealed common pathways, gene ontology, protein domains, and cell type-specific expression. In summary, we provide evidence of five novel SLE susceptibility loci. Integrated bioinformatics using all 82 loci revealed that SLE susceptibility loci share many gene regulatory features, suggestive of conserved mechanisms of SLE etiopathogenesis.

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    03/15/17 | Quantifying transcription factor binding dynamics at the single-molecule level in live cells.
    Presman DM, Ball DA, Paakinaho V, Grimm JB, Lavis LD, Karpova TS, Hager GL
    Methods (San Diego, Calif.). 2017 Mar 15:. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2017.03.014

    Progressive, technological achievements in the quantitative fluorescence microscopy field are allowing researches from many different areas to start unraveling the dynamic intricacies of biological processes inside living cells. From super-resolution microscopy techniques to tracking of individual proteins, fluorescence microscopy is changing our perspective on how the cell works. Fortunately, a growing number of research groups are exploring single-molecule studies in living cells. However, no clear consensus exists on several key aspects of the technique such as image acquisition conditions, or analysis of the obtained data. Here, we describe a detailed approach to perform single-molecule tracking (SMT) of transcription factors in living cells to obtain key binding characteristics, namely their residence time and bound fractions. We discuss different types of fluorophores, labeling density, microscope, cameras, data acquisition, and data analysis. Using the glucocorticoid receptor as a model transcription factor, we compared alternate tags (GFP, mEOS, HaloTag, SNAP-tag, CLIP-tag) for potential multicolor applications. We also examine different methods to extract the dissociation rates and compare them with simulated data. Finally, we discuss several challenges that this exciting technique still faces.

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    03/13/17 | Stochastic protein labeling enables long-term single molecule observation in vivo.
    Liu H, Dong P, Ioannou MS, Li L, Shea J, Pasolli HA, Grimm JB, Rivlin PK, Lavis LD, Koyama M, Liu Z
    bioRxiv. 2017 Mar 13:. doi: 10.1101/116186

    Our ability to unambiguously image and track individual molecules in live cells is limited by packing of multiple copies of labeled molecules within the resolution limit. Here we devise a universal genetic strategy to precisely control protein copy number in a cell. This system has a dynamic titration range of more than 10,000 fold, enabling sparse labeling of proteins expressed at widely different levels. Combined with fluorescence signal amplification tags, this system extends the duration of automated single-molecule tracking by 2 orders of magnitude. We demonstrate long-term imaging of synaptic vesicle dynamics in cultured neurons as well as in live zebrafish. We found that axon initial segment utilizes a waterfall mechanism gating synaptic vesicle transport polarity by promoting anterograde transport processivity. Long-time observation also reveals that transcription factor Sox2 samples clustered binding sites in spatially-restricted sub-nuclear regions, suggesting that topological structures in the nucleus shape local gene activities by a sequestering mechanism. This strategy thus greatly expands the spatiotemporal length scales of live-cell single-molecule measurements for a quantitative understanding of complex control of molecular dynamics in vivo.

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    03/09/17 | Genetic and transgenic reagents for Drosophila simulans, D. mauritiana, D. yakuba, D. santomea and D. virilis.
    Stern DL, Crocker J, Ding Y, Frankel N, Kappes G, Kim E, Kuzmickas R, Lemire A, Mast JD, Picard S
    G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2017 Mar 09;7(4):1339-47. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.038885

    Species of the Drosophila melanogaster species subgroup, including the species D. simulans, D. mauritiana, D. yakuba, and D. santomea, have long served as model systems for studying evolution. Studies in these species have been limited, however, by a paucity of genetic and transgenic reagents. Here we describe a collection of transgenic and genetic strains generated to facilitate genetic studies within and between these species. We have generated many strains of each species containing mapped piggyBac transposons including an enhanced yellow fluorescent protein gene expressed in the eyes and a phiC31 attP site-specific integration site. We have tested a subset of these lines for integration efficiency and reporter gene expression levels. We have also generated a smaller collection of other lines expressing other genetically encoded fluorescent molecules in the eyes and a number of other transgenic reagents that will be useful for functional studies in these species. In addition, we have mapped the insertion locations of 58 transposable elements in D. virilis that will be useful for genetic mapping studies.

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