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18 Janelia Publications

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    06/27/19 | Glia accumulate evidence that actions are futile and suppress unsuccessful behavior.
    Mu Y, Bennett DV, Rubinov M, Narayan S, Yang C, Tanimoto M, Mensh BD, Looger LL, Ahrens MB
    Cell. 2019 Jun 27;178(1):27-43. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.050

    When a behavior repeatedly fails to achieve its goal, animals often give up and become passive, which can be strategic for preserving energy or regrouping between attempts. It is unknown how the brain identifies behavioral failures and mediates this behavioral-state switch. In larval zebrafish swimming in virtual reality, visual feedback can be withheld so that swim attempts fail to trigger expected visual flow. After tens of seconds of such motor futility, animals became passive for similar durations. Whole-brain calcium imaging revealed noradrenergic neurons that responded specifically to failed swim attempts and radial astrocytes whose calcium levels accumulated with increasing numbers of failed attempts. Using cell ablation and optogenetic or chemogenetic activation, we found that noradrenergic neurons progressively activated brainstem radial astrocytes, which then suppressed swimming. Thus, radial astrocytes perform a computation critical for behavior: they accumulate evidence that current actions are ineffective and consequently drive changes in behavioral states.

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    06/26/19 | High-dimensional geometry of population responses in visual cortex.
    Stringer C, Pachitariu M, Steinmetz NA, Carandini M, Harris KD
    Nature. 2019 Jun 26;571(7765):361-65. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1346-5

    A neuronal population encodes information most efficiently when its activity is uncorrelated and high-dimensional, and most robustly when its activity is correlated and lower-dimensional. Here, we analyzed the correlation structure of natural image coding, in large visual cortical populations recorded from awake mice. Evoked population activity was high dimensional, with correlations obeying an unexpected power-law: the n-th principal component variance scaled as 1/n. This was not inherited from the 1/f spectrum of natural images, because it persisted after stimulus whitening. We proved mathematically that the variance spectrum must decay at least this fast if a population code is smooth, i.e. if small changes in input cannot dominate population activity. The theory also predicts larger power-law exponents for lower-dimensional stimulus ensembles, which we validated experimentally. These results suggest that coding smoothness represents a fundamental constraint governing correlations in neural population codes.

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    06/27/19 | High-resolution imaging reveals how the spindle midzone impacts chromosome movement.
    Pamula MC, Carlini L, Forth S, Verma P, Suresh S, Legant WR, Khodjakov A, Betzig E, Kapoor TM
    The Journal of Cell Biology. 27 Jun 2019;218(8):2529-44. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201904169

    In the spindle midzone, microtubules from opposite half-spindles form bundles between segregating chromosomes. Microtubule bundles can either push or restrict chromosome movement during anaphase in different cellular contexts, but how these activities are achieved remains poorly understood. Here, we use high-resolution live-cell imaging to analyze individual microtubule bundles, growing filaments, and chromosome movement in dividing human cells. Within bundles, filament overlap length marked by the cross-linking protein PRC1 decreases during anaphase as chromosome segregation slows. Filament ends within microtubule bundles appear capped despite dynamic PRC1 turnover and submicrometer proximity to growing microtubules. Chromosome segregation distance and rate are increased in two human cell lines when microtubule bundle assembly is prevented via PRC1 knockdown. Upon expressing a mutant PRC1 with reduced microtubule affinity, bundles assemble but chromosome hypersegregation is still observed. We propose that microtubule overlap length reduction, typically linked to pushing forces generated within filament bundles, is needed to properly restrict spindle elongation and position chromosomes within daughter cells.

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    06/01/17 | Ensemble cryo-EM elucidates the mechanism of translation fidelity.
    Loveland AB, Demo G, Grigorieff N, Korostelev AA
    Nature. 2017 Jun 01;546(7656):113-117. doi: 10.1038/nature22397

    Gene translation depends on accurate decoding of mRNA, the structural mechanism of which remains poorly understood. Ribosomes decode mRNA codons by selecting cognate aminoacyl-tRNAs delivered by elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu). Here we present high-resolution structural ensembles of ribosomes with cognate or near-cognate aminoacyl-tRNAs delivered by EF-Tu. Both cognate and near-cognate tRNA anticodons explore the aminoacyl-tRNA-binding site (A site) of an open 30S subunit, while inactive EF-Tu is separated from the 50S subunit. A transient conformation of decoding-centre nucleotide G530 stabilizes the cognate codon-anticodon helix, initiating step-wise 'latching' of the decoding centre. The resulting closure of the 30S subunit docks EF-Tu at the sarcin-ricin loop of the 50S subunit, activating EF-Tu for GTP hydrolysis and enabling accommodation of the aminoacyl-tRNA. By contrast, near-cognate complexes fail to induce the G530 latch, thus favouring open 30S pre-accommodation intermediates with inactive EF-Tu. This work reveals long-sought structural differences between the pre-accommodation of cognate and near-cognate tRNAs that elucidate the mechanism of accurate decoding.

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    06/26/19 | Ephus: multipurpose data acquisition software for neuroscience experiments.
    Suter BA, O'Connor T, Iyer V, Petreanu LT, Hooks BM, Kiritani T, Svoboda K, Shepherd GM
    Front Neural Circuits. 2010;4:100. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2010.00100

    Physiological measurements in neuroscience experiments often involve complex stimulus paradigms and multiple data channels. Ephus ( is an open-source software package designed for general-purpose data acquisition and instrument control. Ephus operates as a collection of modular programs, including an ephys program for standard whole-cell recording with single or multiple electrodes in typical electrophysiological experiments, and a mapper program for synaptic circuit mapping experiments involving laser scanning photostimulation based on glutamate uncaging or channelrhodopsin-2 excitation. Custom user functions allow user-extensibility at multiple levels, including on-line analysis and closed-loop experiments, where experimental parameters can be changed based on recently acquired data, such as during in vivo behavioral experiments. Ephus is compatible with a variety of data acquisition and imaging hardware. This paper describes the main features and modules of Ephus and their use in representative experimental applications.

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    01/04/18 | Genetics of intellectual disability in consanguineous families.
    Hu H, Kahrizi K, Musante L, Fattahi Z, Herwig R, Hosseini M, Oppitz C, Abedini SS, Suckow V, Larti F, Beheshtian M, Lipkowitz B, Akhtarkhavari T, Mehvari S, Otto S, Mohseni M, Arzhangi S, Jamali P, Mojahedi F, Taghdiri M, Papari E, Soltani Banavandi MJ, Akbari S, Tonekaboni SH, Dehghani H, Ebrahimpour MR, Bader I, Davarnia B, Cohen M, Khodaei H, Albrecht B, Azimi S, Zirn B, Bastami M, Wieczorek D, Bahrami G, Keleman K, Vahid LN, Tzschach A, Gärtner J, Gillessen-Kaesbach G, Varaghchi JR, Timmermann B, Pourfatemi F, Jankhah A, Chen W, Nikuei P, Kalscheuer VM, Oladnabi M, Wienker TF, Ropers H, Najmabadi H
    Mol Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 04;24(7):1027-1039. doi: 10.1038/s41380-017-0012-2

    Autosomal recessive (AR) gene defects are the leading genetic cause of intellectual disability (ID) in countries with frequent parental consanguinity, which account for about 1/7th of the world population. Yet, compared to autosomal dominant de novo mutations, which are the predominant cause of ID in Western countries, the identification of AR-ID genes has lagged behind. Here, we report on whole exome and whole genome sequencing in 404 consanguineous predominantly Iranian families with two or more affected offspring. In 219 of these, we found likely causative variants, involving 77 known and 77 novel AR-ID (candidate) genes, 21 X-linked genes, as well as 9 genes previously implicated in diseases other than ID. This study, the largest of its kind published to date, illustrates that high-throughput DNA sequencing in consanguineous families is a superior strategy for elucidating the thousands of hitherto unknown gene defects underlying AR-ID, and it sheds light on their prevalence.

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    04/26/09 | Rate-constrained distributed distance testing and its applications.
    Chuohao Yeo , Parvez Ahammad , Hao Zhang , Kannan Ramchandran
    IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing. 2009 Apr 24:. doi: 10.1109/ICASSP.2009.4959707

    We investigate a practical approach to solving one instantiation of a distributed hypothesis testing problem under severe rate constraints that shows up in a wide variety of applications such as camera calibration, biometric authentication and video hashing: given two distributed continuous-valued random sources, determine if they satisfy a certain Euclidean distance criterion. We show a way to convert the problem from continuous-valued to binary-valued using binarized random projections and obtain rate savings by applying a linear syndrome code. In finding visual correspondences, our approach uses just 49% of the rate of scalar quantization to achieve the same level of retrieval performance. To perform video hashing, our approach requires only a hash rate of 0.0142 bpp to identify corresponding groups of pictures correctly.

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    06/25/19 | High-resolution cryo-EM structures of outbreak strain human norovirus shells reveal size variations.
    Jung J, Grant T, Thomas DR, Diehnelt CW, Grigorieff N, Leemor J
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019 Jun 25;116(26):12828-32. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1903562116

    Noroviruses are a leading cause of foodborne illnesses worldwide. Although GII.4 strains have been responsible for most norovirus outbreaks, the assembled virus shell structures have been available in detail for only a single strain (GI.1). We present high-resolution (2.6- to 4.1-Å) cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of GII.4, GII.2, GI.7, and GI.1 human norovirus outbreak strain virus-like particles (VLPs). Although norovirus VLPs have been thought to exist in a single-sized assembly, our structures reveal polymorphism between and within genogroups, with small, medium, and large particle sizes observed. Using asymmetric reconstruction, we were able to resolve a Zn2+ metal ion adjacent to the coreceptor binding site, which affected the structural stability of the shell. Our structures serve as valuable templates for facilitating vaccine formulations.

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    06/21/19 | Chemistry of photosensitive fluorophores for single-molecule localization microscopy.
    Jradi FM, Lavis LD
    ACS Chemical Biology. 2019 Jun 21;14(6):1077-90. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.9b00197

    The development of single-molecule localization microscopy (SMLM) has sparked a revolution in biological imaging, allowing 'super-resolution' fluorescence microscopy below the diffraction limit of light. The last decade has seen an explosion in not only optical hardware for SMLM but also the development or repurposing of fluorescent proteins and small-molecule fluorescent probes for this technique. In this review, written by chemists for chemists, we detail the history of single-molecule localization microscopy and collate the collection of probes with demonstrated utility in SMLM. We hope it will serve as a primer for probe choice in localization microscopy as well as an inspiration for the development of new fluorophores that enable imaging of biological samples with exquisite detail.

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    05/21/19 | In situ structure of rotavirus VP1 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.
    Jenni S, Salgado EN, Herrmann T, Li Z, Grant T, Grigorieff N, Trapani S, Estrozi LF, Harrison SC
    Journal of Molecular Biology. 2019 Jun 21;431(17):3124-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2019.06.016

    Rotaviruses, like other non-enveloped, double-strand RNA (dsRNA) viruses, package an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) with each duplex of their segmented genomes. Rotavirus cell entry results in loss of an outer protein layer and delivery into the cytosol of an intact, inner capsid particle (the “double-layer particle” or DLP). The RdRp, designated VP1, is active inside the DLP; each VP1 achieves many rounds of mRNA transcription from its associated genome segment. Previous work has shown that one VP1 molecule lies close to each fivefold axis of the icosahedrally symmetric DLP, just beneath the inner surface of its protein shell, embedded in tightly packed RNA. We have determined a high-resolution structure for the rotavirus VP1 RdRp in situ, by local reconstruction of density around individual fivefold positions. We have analyzed intact virions (“triple-layer particles” or TLPs), non-transcribing DLPs and transcribing DLPs. Outer layer dissociation enables the DLP to synthesize RNA, in vitro as well as in vivo, but appears not to induce any detectable structural change in the RdRp. Addition of NTPs, Mg2+, and S-adenosyl methionine, which allows active transcription, results in conformational rearrangements, in both VP1 and the DLP capsid shell protein, that allow a transcript to exit the polymerase and the particle. The position of VP1 (among the five symmetrically related alternatives) at one vertex does not correlate with its position at other vertices. This stochastic distribution of site occupancies limits long-range order in the 11-segment, dsRNA genome.

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