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179 Janelia Publications

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    12/26/19 | Structure of an endosomal signaling GPCR-G protein-β-arrestin megacomplex.
    Nguyen AH, Thomsen AR, Cahill TJ, Huang R, Huang L, Marcink T, Clarke OB, Heissel S, Masoudi A, Ben-Hail D, Samaan F, Dandey VP, Tan YZ, Hong C, Mahoney JP, Triest S, Little J, Chen X, Sunahara R, Steyaert J, Molina H, Yu Z, des Georges A, Lefkowitz RJ
    Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. 2019 Dec 26;26(12):1123-1131. doi: 10.1038/s41594-019-0330-y

    Classically, G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are thought to activate G protein from the plasma membrane and are subsequently desensitized by β-arrestin (β-arr). However, some GPCRs continue to signal through G protein from internalized compartments, mediated by a GPCR-G protein-β-arr 'megaplex'. Nevertheless, the molecular architecture of the megaplex remains unknown. Here, we present its cryo-electron microscopy structure, which shows simultaneous engagement of human G protein and bovine β-arr to the core and phosphorylated tail, respectively, of a single active human chimeric β-adrenergic receptor with the C-terminal tail of the arginine vasopressin type 2 receptor (βVR). All three components adopt their canonical active conformations, suggesting that a single megaplex GPCR is capable of simultaneously activating G protein and β-arr. Our findings provide a structural basis for GPCR-mediated sustained internalized G protein signaling.

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    12/23/19 | MeCP2 nuclear dynamics in live neurons results from low and high affinity chromatin interactions.
    Piccolo FM, Liu Z, Dong P, Hsu C, Stoyanova EI, Rao A, Tjian R, Heintz N
    eLife. 2019 Dec 23;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.51449

    Methyl-CpG-binding-Protein 2 (MeCP2) is an abundant nuclear protein highly enriched in neurons. Here we report live-cell single-molecule imaging studies of the kinetic features of mouse MeCP2 at high spatial-temporal resolution. MeCP2 displays dynamic features that are distinct from both highly mobile transcription factors and immobile histones. Stable binding of MeCP2 in living neurons requires its methyl-binding domain and is sensitive to DNA modification levels. Diffusion of unbound MeCP2 is strongly constrained by weak, transient interactions mediated primarily by its AT-hook domains, and varies with the level of chromatin compaction and cell type. These findings extend previous studies of the role of the MeCP2 MBD in high affinity DNA binding to living neurons, and identify a new role for its AT-hooks domains as critical determinants of its kinetic behavior. They suggest that limited nuclear diffusion of MeCP2 in live neurons contributes to its local impact on chromatin structure and gene expression.

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    12/01/19 | High-throughput dense reconstruction of cell lineages.
    Espinosa-Medina I, Garcia-Marques J, Cepko C, Lee T
    Open Biology. 2019 Dec 01;9(12):190229. doi: 10.1098/rsob.190229

    The first meeting exclusively dedicated to the 'High-throughput dense reconstruction of cell lineages' took place at Janelia Research Campus (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) from 14 to 18 April 2019. Organized by Tzumin Lee, Connie Cepko, Jorge Garcia-Marques and Isabel Espinosa-Medina, this meeting echoed the recent eruption of new tools that allow the reconstruction of lineages based on the phylogenetic analysis of DNA mutations induced during development. Combined with single-cell RNA sequencing, these tools promise to solve the lineage of complex model organisms at single-cell resolution. Here, we compile the conference consensus on the technological and computational challenges emerging from the use of the new strategies, as well as potential solutions.

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    12/18/19 | Phase separation of YAP reorganizes genome topology for long-term YAP target gene expression.
    Cai D, Feliciano D, Dong P, Flores E, Gruebele M, Porat-Shliom N, Sukenik S, Liu Z, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Nature Cell Biology. 2019 Dec;21(12):1578-1589. doi: 10.1038/s41556-019-0433-z

    Yes-associated protein (YAP) is a transcriptional co-activator that regulates cell proliferation and survival by binding to a select set of enhancers for target gene activation. How YAP coordinates these transcriptional responses is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that YAP forms liquid-like condensates in the nucleus. Formed within seconds of hyperosmotic stress, YAP condensates compartmentalized the YAP transcription factor TEAD1 and other YAP-related co-activators, including TAZ, and subsequently induced the transcription of YAP-specific proliferation genes. Super-resolution imaging using assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with photoactivated localization microscopy revealed that the YAP nuclear condensates were areas enriched in accessible chromatin domains organized as super-enhancers. Initially devoid of RNA polymerase II, the accessible chromatin domains later acquired RNA polymerase II, transcribing RNA. The removal of the intrinsically-disordered YAP transcription activation domain prevented the formation of YAP condensates and diminished downstream YAP signalling. Thus, dynamic changes in genome organization and gene activation during YAP reprogramming is mediated by liquid-liquid phase separation.

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    12/11/19 | The computation of directional selectivity in the OFF motion pathway.
    Gruntman E, Romani S, Reiser MB
    eLife. 2019 Dec 11;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.50706

    In flies, the direction of moving ON and OFF features is computed separately. T4 (ON) and T5 (OFF) are the first neurons in their respective pathways to extract a directionally selective response from their non-selective inputs. Our recent study of T4 found that the integration of offset depolarizing and hyperpolarizing inputs is critical for the generation of directional selectivity. However, T5s lack small-field inhibitory inputs, suggesting they may use a different mechanism. Here we used whole-cell recordings of T5 neurons and found a similar receptive field structure: fast depolarization and persistent, spatially offset hyperpolarization. By assaying pairwise interactions of local stimulation across the receptive field, we found no amplifying responses, only suppressive responses to the non-preferred motion direction. We then evaluated passive, biophysical models and found that a model using direct inhibition, but not the removal of excitation, can accurately predict T5 responses to a range of moving stimuli.

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    12/04/19 | Preparation and co-culture of iPSC-derived dopaminergic neurons and astrocytes.
    de Rus Jacquet A
    Current Protocols in Cell Biology. 2019 Dec 04;85(1):e98. doi: 10.1002/cpcb.98

    Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based models are powerful tools to study neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. The differentiation of patient-derived neurons and astrocytes allows investigation of the molecular mechanisms responsible for disease onset and development. In particular, these two cell types can be mono- or co-cultured to study the influence of cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous contributors to neurodegenerative diseases. We developed a streamlined procedure to produce high-quality/high-purity cultures of dopaminergic neurons and astrocytes that originate from the same population of midbrain floor-plate progenitors. This unit describes differentiation, quality control, culture parameters, and troubleshooting tips to ensure the highest quality and reproducibility of research results. © 2019 The Authors. Basic Protocol 1: Differentiation of iPSCs into midbrain-patterned neural progenitor cells Support Protocol: Quality control of neural progenitor cells Basic Protocol 2: Differentiation of neural progenitor cells into astrocytes Basic Protocol 3: Differentiation of neural progenitor cells into dopaminergic neurons Basic Protocol 4: Co-culture of iPSC-derived neurons and astrocytes.

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    12/01/19 | A neuronal pathway that commands deceleration in Drosophila larval light-avoidance.
    Gong C, Ouyang Z, Zhao W, Wang J, Li K, Zhou P, Zhao T, Zheng N, Gong Z
    Neuroscience Bulletin. 2019 Dec 1;35(6):. doi: 10.1007/s12264-019-00349-w

    When facing a sudden danger or aversive condition while engaged in on-going forward motion, animals transiently slow down and make a turn to escape. The neural mechanisms underlying stimulation-induced deceleration in avoidance behavior are largely unknown. Here, we report that in Drosophila larvae, light-induced deceleration was commanded by a continuous neural pathway that included prothoracicotropic hormone neurons, eclosion hormone neurons, and tyrosine decarboxylase 2 motor neurons (the PET pathway). Inhibiting neurons in the PET pathway led to defects in light-avoidance due to insufficient deceleration and head casting. On the other hand, activation of PET pathway neurons specifically caused immediate deceleration in larval locomotion. Our findings reveal a neural substrate for the emergent deceleration response and provide a new understanding of the relationship between behavioral modules in animal avoidance responses.

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    12/01/19 | High-yield, automated intracellular electrophysiology in retinal pigment epithelia.
    Lewallen CF, Wan Q, Maminishkis A, Stoy W, Kolb I, Hotaling N, Bharti K, Forest CR
    Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 2019 Dec 01;328:108442. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2019.108442

    BACKGROUND: Recent advancements with induced pluripotent stem cell-derived (iPSC) retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) have made disease modeling and cell therapy for macular degeneration feasible. However, current techniques for intracellular electrophysiology - used to validate epithelial function - are painstaking and require manual skill; limiting experimental throughput.

    NEW METHOD: A five-stage algorithm, leveraging advances in automated patch clamping, systematically derived and optimized, improves yield and reduces skill when compared to conventional, manual techniques.

    RESULTS: The automated algorithm improves yield per attempt from 17% (manually, n = 23) to 22% (automated, n = 120) (chi-squared, p = 0.004). Specifically for RPE, depressing the local cell membrane by 6 μm and electroporating (buzzing) just prior to this depth (5 μm) maximized yield.

    COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHOD: Conventionally, intracellular epithelial electrophysiology is performed by manually lowering a pipette with a micromanipulator, blindly, towards a monolayer of cells and spontaneously stopping when the magnitude of the instantaneous measured membrane potential decreased below a predetermined threshold. The new method automatically measures the pipette tip resistance during the descent, detects the cell surface, indents the cell membrane, and briefly buzzes to electroporate the membrane while descending, overall achieving a higher yield than conventional methods.

    CONCLUSIONS: This paper presents an algorithm for high-yield, automated intracellular electrophysiology in epithelia; optimized for human RPE. Automation reduces required user skill and training while, simultaneously, improving yield. This algorithm could enable large-scale exploration of drug toxicity and physiological function verification for numerous kinds of epithelia.

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    12/01/19 | Neuropixels data-acquisition system: A scalable platform for parallel recording of 10 000+ electrophysiological signals.
    Putzeys J, Musa S, Mora Lopez C, Raducanu BC, Carton A, De Ceulaer J, Karsh B, Siegle JH, Van Helleputte N, Harris TD, Dutta B
    IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems. 2019 Dec 01;13(6):1635-1644. doi: 10.1109/TBCAS.2019.2943077

    Although CMOS fabrication has enabled a quick evolution in the design of high-density neural probes and neural-recording chips, the scaling and miniaturization of the complete data-acquisition systems has happened at a slower pace. This is mainly due to the complexity and the many requirements that change depending on the specific experimental settings. In essence, the fundamental challenge of a neural-recording system is getting the signals describing the largest possible set of neurons out of the brain and down to data storage for analysis. This requires a complete system optimization that considers the physical, electrical, thermal and signal-processing requirements, while accounting for available technology, manufacturing constraints and budget. Here we present a scalable and open-standards-based open-source data-acquisition system capable of recording from over 10,000 channels of raw neural data simultaneously. The components and their interfaces have been optimized to ensure robustness and minimum invasiveness in small-rodent electrophysiology.

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    11/27/19 | Cryo-EM structure of the human FLCN-FNIP2-Rag-Ragulator complex.
    Shen K, Rogala KB, Chou H, Huang RK, Yu Z, Sabatini DM
    Cell. 2019 Nov 27;179(6):1319-29. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.10.036