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187 Janelia Publications

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    11/08/17 | Ultra-selective looming detection from radial motion opponency.
    Klapoetke NC, Nern A, Peek MY, Rogers EM, Breads P, Rubin GM, Reiser MB, Card GM
    Nature. 2017 Nov 08;551(7679):237-241. doi: 10.1038/nature24626

    Nervous systems combine lower-level sensory signals to detect higher-order stimulus features critical to survival, such as the visual looming motion created by an imminent collision or approaching predator. Looming-sensitive neurons have been identified in diverse animal species. Different large-scale visual features such as looming often share local cues, which means loom-detecting neurons face the challenge of rejecting confounding stimuli. Here we report the discovery of an ultra-selective looming detecting neuron, lobula plate/lobula columnar, type II (LPLC2) in Drosophila, and show how its selectivity is established by radial motion opponency. In the fly visual system, directionally selective small-field neurons called T4 and T5 form a spatial map in the lobula plate, where they each terminate in one of four retinotopic layers, such that each layer responds to motion in a different cardinal direction. Single-cell anatomical analysis reveals that each arm of the LPLC2 cross-shaped primary dendrites ramifies in one of these layers and extends along that layer's preferred motion direction. In vivo calcium imaging demonstrates that, as their shape predicts, individual LPLC2 neurons respond strongly to outward motion emanating from the centre of the neuron's receptive field. Each dendritic arm also receives local inhibitory inputs directionally selective for inward motion opposing the excitation. This radial motion opponency generates a balance of excitation and inhibition that makes LPLC2 non-responsive to related patterns of motion such as contraction, wide-field rotation or luminance change. As a population, LPLC2 neurons densely cover visual space and terminate onto the giant fibre descending neurons, which drive the jump muscle motor neuron to trigger an escape take off. Our findings provide a mechanistic description of the selective feature detection that flies use to discern and escape looming threats.

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    11/07/17 | Immature HIV-1 lattice assembly dynamics are regulated by scaffolding from nucleic acid and the plasma membrane.
    Pak AJ, Grime JM, Sengupta P, Chen AK, Durumeric AE, Srivastava A, Yeager M, Briggs JA, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Voth GA
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 Nov 07;114(47):E10056-65. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1706600114

    The packaging and budding of Gag polyprotein and viral RNA is a critical step in the HIV-1 life cycle. High-resolution structures of the Gag polyprotein have revealed that the capsid (CA) and spacer peptide 1 (SP1) domains contain important interfaces for Gag self-assembly. However, the molecular details of the multimerization process, especially in the presence of RNA and the cell membrane, have remained unclear. In this work, we investigate the mechanisms that work in concert between the polyproteins, RNA, and membrane to promote immature lattice growth. We develop a coarse-grained (CG) computational model that is derived from subnanometer resolution structural data. Our simulations recapitulate contiguous and hexameric lattice assembly driven only by weak anisotropic attractions at the helical CA-SP1 junction. Importantly, analysis from CG and single-particle tracking photoactivated localization (spt-PALM) trajectories indicates that viral RNA and the membrane are critical constituents that actively promote Gag multimerization through scaffolding, while overexpression of short competitor RNA can suppress assembly. We also find that the CA amino-terminal domain imparts intrinsic curvature to the Gag lattice. As a consequence, immature lattice growth appears to be coupled to the dynamics of spontaneous membrane deformation. Our findings elucidate a simple network of interactions that regulate the early stages of HIV-1 assembly and budding.

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    11/03/17 | Topological and modality-specific representation of somatosensory information in the fly brain.
    Tsubouchi A, Yano T, Yokoyama TK, Murtin C, Otsuna H, Ito K
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 11 03;358(6363):615-623. doi: 10.1126/science.aan4428

    Insects and mammals share similarities of neural organization underlying the perception of odors, taste, vision, sound, and gravity. We observed that insect somatosensation also corresponds to that of mammals. In Drosophila, the projections of all the somatosensory neuron types to the insect's equivalent of the spinal cord segregated into modality-specific layers comparable to those in mammals. Some sensory neurons innervate the ventral brain directly to form modality-specific and topological somatosensory maps. Ascending interneurons with dendrites in matching layers of the nerve cord send axons that converge to respective brain regions. Pathways arising from leg somatosensory neurons encode distinct qualities of leg movement information and play different roles in ground detection. Establishment of the ground pattern and genetic tools for neuronal manipulation should provide the basis for elucidating the mechanisms underlying somatosensation.

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    11/02/17 | A moving source of matrix components is essential for de novo basement membrane formation.
    Matsubayashi Y, Louani A, Dragu A, Sánchez-Sánchez BJ, Serna-Morales E, Yolland L, Gyoergy A, Vizcay G, Fleck RA, Heddleston JM, Chew T, Siekhaus DE, Stramer BM
    Current Biology : CB. 2017 Nov 02;27(22):3526-34. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.10.001

    The basement membrane (BM) is a thin layer of extracellular matrix (ECM) beneath nearly all epithelial cell types that is critical for cellular and tissue function. It is composed of numerous components conserved among all bilaterians [1]; however, it is unknown how all of these components are generated and subsequently constructed to form a fully mature BM in the living animal. Although BM formation is thought to simply involve a process of self-assembly [2], this concept suffers from a number of logistical issues when considering its construction in vivo. First, incorporation of BM components appears to be hierarchical [3-5], yet it is unclear whether their production during embryogenesis must also be regulated in a temporal fashion. Second, many BM proteins are produced not only by the cells residing on the BM but also by surrounding cell types [6-9], and it is unclear how large, possibly insoluble protein complexes [10] are delivered into the matrix. Here we exploit our ability to live image and genetically dissect de novo BM formation during Drosophila development. This reveals that there is a temporal hierarchy of BM protein production that is essential for proper component incorporation. Furthermore, we show that BM components require secretion by migrating macrophages (hemocytes) during their developmental dispersal, which is critical for embryogenesis. Indeed, hemocyte migration is essential to deliver a subset of ECM components evenly throughout the embryo. This reveals that de novo BM construction requires a combination of both production and distribution logistics allowing for the timely delivery of core components.

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    11/02/17 | Network-size independent covering number bounds for deep networks.
    Kabra M, Branson KM
    arXiv. 2017 Nov 02:arXiv:1711.00753

    We give a covering number bound for deep learning networks that is independent of the size of the network. The key for the simple analysis is that for linear classifiers, rotating the data doesn't affect the covering number. Thus, we can ignore the rotation part of each layer's linear transformation, and get the covering number bound by concentrating on the scaling part.

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    11/02/17 | Nuclear microenvironments modulate transcription from low-affinity enhancers.
    Tsai A, Muthusamy AK, Alves MR, Lavis LD, Singer RH, Stern DL, Crocker J
    eLife. 2017 Nov 02;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28975

    Transcription factors bind low-affinity DNA sequences for only short durations. It is not clear how brief, low-affinity interactions can drive efficient transcription. Here we report that the transcription factor Ultrabithorax (Ubx) utilizes low-affinity binding sites in the Drosophila melanogastershavenbaby (svb) locus and related enhancers in nuclear microenvironments of high Ubx concentrations. Related enhancers colocalize to the same microenvironments independently of their chromosomal location, suggesting that microenvironments are highly differentiated transcription domains. Manipulating the affinity of svb enhancers revealed an inverse relationship between enhancer affinity and Ubx concentration required for transcriptional activation. The Ubx cofactor, Homothorax (Hth), was co-enriched with Ubx near enhancers that require Hth, even though Ubx and Hth did not co-localize throughout the nucleus. Thus, microenvironments of high local transcription factor and cofactor concentrations could help low-affinity sites overcome their kinetic inefficiency. Mechanisms that generate these microenvironments could be a general feature of eukaryotic transcriptional regulation.

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    10/31/17 | Membrane dynamics and organelle biogenesis-lipid pipelines and vesicular carriers.
    Stefan CJ, Trimble WS, Grinstein S, Drin G, Reinisch K, De Camilli P, Cohen S, Valm AM, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Levine TP, Iaea DB, Maxfield FR, Futter CE, Eden ER, Judith D, van Vliet AR, Agostinis P, Tooze SA, Sugiura A, McBride HM
    BMC Biology. 2017 Oct 31;15(1):102. doi: 10.1186/s12915-017-0432-0

    Discoveries spanning several decades have pointed to vital membrane lipid trafficking pathways involving both vesicular and non-vesicular carriers. But the relative contributions for distinct membrane delivery pathways in cell growth and organelle biogenesis continue to be a puzzle. This is because lipids flow from many sources and across many paths via transport vesicles, non-vesicular transfer proteins, and dynamic interactions between organelles at membrane contact sites. This forum presents our latest understanding, appreciation, and queries regarding the lipid transport mechanisms necessary to drive membrane expansion during organelle biogenesis and cell growth.

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    Singer Lab
    10/24/17 | Intercellular mRNA trafficking via membrane nanotube-like extensions in mammalian cells.
    Haimovich G, Ecker CM, Dunagin MC, Eggan E, Raj A, Gerst JE, Singer RH
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 Oct 24;114(46):E9873-E9882. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1706365114

    RNAs have been shown to undergo transfer between mammalian cells, although the mechanism behind this phenomenon and its overall importance to cell physiology is not well understood. Numerous publications have suggested that RNAs (microRNAs and incomplete mRNAs) undergo transfer via extracellular vesicles (e.g., exosomes). However, in contrast to a diffusion-based transfer mechanism, we find that full-length mRNAs undergo direct cell-cell transfer via cytoplasmic extensions characteristic of membrane nanotubes (mNTs), which connect donor and acceptor cells. By employing a simple coculture experimental model and using single-molecule imaging, we provide quantitative data showing that mRNAs are transferred between cells in contact. Examples of mRNAs that undergo transfer include those encoding GFP, mouse β-actin, and human Cyclin D1, BRCA1, MT2A, and HER2. We show that intercellular mRNA transfer occurs in all coculture models tested (e.g., between primary cells, immortalized cells, and in cocultures of immortalized human and murine cells). Rapid mRNA transfer is dependent upon actin but is independent of de novo protein synthesis and is modulated by stress conditions and gene-expression levels. Hence, this work supports the hypothesis that full-length mRNAs undergo transfer between cells through a refined structural connection. Importantly, unlike the transfer of miRNA or RNA fragments, this process of communication transfers genetic information that could potentially alter the acceptor cell proteome. This phenomenon may prove important for the proper development and functioning of tissues as well as for host-parasite or symbiotic interactions.

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    Fetter LabCardona Lab
    10/23/17 | Conserved neural circuit structure across Drosophila larva development revealed by comparative connectomics.
    Gerhard S, Andrade I, Fetter RD, Cardona A, Schneider-Mizell CM
    eLife. 2017 Oct 23;6:e29089. doi: 10.7554/eLife.29089

    During postembryonic development, the nervous system must adapt to a growing body. How changes in neuronal structure and connectivity contribute to the maintenance of appropriate circuit function remains unclear. In a previous paper (Schneider-Mizell et al., 2016), we measured the cellular neuroanatomy underlying synaptic connectivity in Drosophila. Here, we examined how neuronal morphology and connectivity change between 1st instar and 3rd instar larval stages using serial section electron microscopy. We reconstructed nociceptive circuits in a larva of each stage and found consistent topographically arranged connectivity between identified neurons. Five-fold increases in each size, number of terminal dendritic branches, and total number of synaptic inputs were accompanied by cell-type specific connectivity changes that preserved the fraction of total synaptic input associated with each presynaptic partner. We propose that precise patterns of structural growth act to conserve the computational function of a circuit, for example determining the location of a dangerous stimulus.

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    10/13/17 | Structure of RNA polymerase bound to ribosomal 30S subunit.
    Demo G, Rasouly A, Vasilyev N, Svetlov V, Loveland AB, Diaz-Avalos R, Grigorieff N, Nudler E, Korostelev AA
    eLife. 2017 Oct 13;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28560

    In bacteria, mRNA transcription and translation are coupled to coordinate optimal gene expression and maintain genome stability. Coupling is thought to involve direct interactions between RNA polymerase (RNAP) and the translational machinery. We present cryo-EM structures of E. coli RNAP core bound to the small ribosomal 30S subunit. The complex is stable under cell-like ionic conditions, consistent with functional interaction between RNAP and the 30S subunit. The RNA exit tunnel of RNAP aligns with the Shine-Dalgarno-binding site of the 30S subunit. Ribosomal protein S1 forms a wall of the tunnel between RNAP and the 30S subunit, consistent with its role in directing mRNAs onto the ribosome. The nucleic-acid-binding cleft of RNAP samples distinct conformations, suggesting different functional states during transcription-translation coupling. The architecture of the 30S•RNAP complex provides a structural basis for co-localization of the transcriptional and translational machineries, and inform future mechanistic studies of coupled transcription and translation.

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