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15 Janelia Publications

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    09/30/19 | Histone H3K27 acetylation precedes active transcription during zebrafish zygotic genome activation as revealed by live-cell analysis.
    Sato Y, Hilbert L, Oda H, Wan Y, Heddleston JM, Chew T, Zaburdaev V, Keller P, Lionnet T, Vastenhouw N, Kimura H
    Development. 2019 Sep 30;146(19):. doi: 10.1242/dev.179127

    Histone post-translational modifications are key gene expression regulators, but their rapid dynamics during development remain difficult to capture. We applied a Fab-based live endogenous modification labeling technique to monitor the changes in histone modification levels during zygotic genome activation (ZGA) in living zebrafish embryos. Among various histone modifications, H3 Lys27 acetylation (H3K27ac) exhibited most drastic changes, accumulating in two nuclear foci in the 64- to 1k-cell-stage embryos. The elongating form of RNA polymerase II, which is phosphorylated at Ser2 in heptad repeats within the C-terminal domain (RNAP2 Ser2ph), and miR-430 transcripts were also concentrated in foci closely associated with H3K27ac. When treated with α-amanitin to inhibit transcription or JQ-1 to inhibit binding of acetyl-reader proteins, H3K27ac foci still appeared but RNAP2 Ser2ph and miR-430 morpholino were not concentrated in foci, suggesting that H3K27ac precedes active transcription during ZGA. We anticipate that the method presented here could be applied to a variety of developmental processes in any model and non-model organisms.

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    09/30/19 | ilastik: interactive machine learning for (bio)image analysis.
    Berg S, Kutra D, Kroeger T, Straehle CN, Kausler BX, Haubold C, Schiegg M, Ales J, Beier T, Rudy M, Eren K, Cervantes JI, Xu B, Beuttenmueller F, Wolny A, Zhang C, Koethe U, Hamprecht FA, Kreshuk A
    Nature Methods. 2019 Sep 30;16:1226-32. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0582-9

    We present ilastik, an easy-to-use interactive tool that brings machine-learning-based (bio)image analysis to end users without substantial computational expertise. It contains pre-defined workflows for image segmentation, object classification, counting and tracking. Users adapt the workflows to the problem at hand by interactively providing sparse training annotations for a nonlinear classifier. ilastik can process data in up to five dimensions (3D, time and number of channels). Its computational back end runs operations on-demand wherever possible, allowing for interactive prediction on data larger than RAM. Once the classifiers are trained, ilastik workflows can be applied to new data from the command line without further user interaction. We describe all ilastik workflows in detail, including three case studies and a discussion on the expected performance.

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    09/25/19 | Can one concurrently record electrical spikes from every neuron in a mammalian brain?
    Kleinfeld D, Luan L, Mitra PP, Robinson JT, Sarpeshkar R, Shepard K, Xie C, Harris TD
    Neuron. 2019 Sep 25;103(6):1005. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.08.011

    The classic approach to measure the spiking response of neurons involves the use of metal electrodes to record extracellular potentials. Starting over 60 years ago with a single recording site, this technology now extends to ever larger numbers and densities of sites. We argue, based on the mechanical and electrical properties of existing materials, estimates of signal-to-noise ratios, assumptions regarding extracellular space in the brain, and estimates of heat generation by the electronic interface, that it should be possible to fabricate rigid electrodes to concurrently record from essentially every neuron in the cortical mantle. This will involve fabrication with existing yet nontraditional materials and procedures. We further emphasize the need to advance materials for improved flexible electrodes as an essential advance to record from neurons in brainstem and spinal cord in moving animals.

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    09/25/19 | Rational design of fluorogenic and spontaneously blinking labels for super-resolution imaging.
    Zheng Q, Ayala AX, Chung I, Weigel AV, Ranjan A, Falco N, Grimm JB, Tkachuk AN, Wu C, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Singer RH, Lavis LD
    ACS Central Science. 2019 Sep 25;5(9):1602-1613. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.9b00676

    Rhodamine dyes exist in equilibrium between a fluorescent zwitterion and a nonfluorescent lactone. Tuning this equilibrium toward the nonfluorescent lactone form can improve cell-permeability and allow creation of "fluorogenic" compounds-ligands that shift to the fluorescent zwitterion upon binding a biomolecular target. An archetype fluorogenic dye is the far-red tetramethyl-Si-rhodamine (SiR), which has been used to create exceptionally useful labels for advanced microscopy. Here, we develop a quantitative framework for the development of new fluorogenic dyes, determining that the lactone-zwitterion equilibrium constant () is sufficient to predict fluorogenicity. This rubric emerged from our analysis of known fluorophores and yielded new fluorescent and fluorogenic labels with improved performance in cellular imaging experiments. We then designed a novel fluorophore-Janelia Fluor 526 (JF)-with SiR-like properties but shorter fluorescence excitation and emission wavelengths. JF is a versatile scaffold for fluorogenic probes including ligands for self-labeling tags, stains for endogenous structures, and spontaneously blinking labels for super-resolution immunofluorescence. JF constitutes a new label for advanced microscopy experiments, and our quantitative framework will enable the rational design of other fluorogenic probes for bioimaging.

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    09/23/19 | Mamo decodes hierarchical temporal gradients into terminal neuronal fate.
    Liu L, Long X, Yang C, Miyares RL, Sugino K, Singer RH, Lee T
    Elife. 2019 Sep 23;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.48056

    Temporal patterning is a seminal method of expanding neuronal diversity. Here we unravel a mechanism decoding neural stem cell temporal gene expression and transforming it into discrete neuronal fates. This mechanism is characterized by hierarchical gene expression. First, neuroblasts express opposing temporal gradients of RNA-binding proteins, Imp and Syp. These proteins promote or inhibit translation, yielding a descending neuronal gradient. Together, first and second-layer temporal factors define a temporal expression window of BTB-zinc finger nuclear protein, Mamo. The precise temporal induction of Mamo is achieved via both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation. Finally, Mamo is essential for the temporally defined, terminal identity of α'/β' mushroom body neurons and identity maintenance. We describe a straightforward paradigm of temporal fate specification where diverse neuronal fates are defined via integrating multiple layers of gene regulation. The neurodevelopmental roles of orthologous/related mammalian genes suggest a fundamental conservation of this mechanism in brain development.

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    09/23/19 | Single-cell reconstruction of emerging population activity in an entire developing circuit.
    Wan Y, Wei Z, Looger LL, Koyama M, Druckmann S, Keller PJ
    Cell. 2019 Sep 23;179(2):. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.08.039

    Animal survival requires a functioning nervous system to develop during embryogenesis. Newborn neurons must assemble into circuits producing activity patterns capable of instructing behaviors. Elucidating how this process is coordinated requires new methods that follow maturation and activity of all cells across a developing circuit. We present an imaging method for comprehensively tracking neuron lineages, movements, molecular identities, and activity in the entire developing zebrafish spinal cord, from neurogenesis until the emergence of patterned activity instructing the earliest spontaneous motor behavior. We found that motoneurons are active first and form local patterned ensembles with neighboring neurons. These ensembles merge, synchronize globally after reaching a threshold size, and finally recruit commissural interneurons to orchestrate the left-right alternating patterns important for locomotion in vertebrates. Individual neurons undergo functional maturation stereotypically based on their birth time and anatomical origin. Our study provides a general strategy for reconstructing how functioning circuits emerge during embryogenesis.

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    09/19/19 | Reconstruction of 1,000 projection neurons reveals new cell types and organization of long-range connectivity in the mouse brain.
    Winnubst J, Bas E, Ferreira TA, Wu Z, Economo MN, Edson P, Arthur BJ, Bruns C, Rokicki K, Schauder D, Olbris DJ, Murphy SD, Ackerman DG, Arshadi C, Baldwin P, Blake R, Elsayed A, Hasan M, Ramirez D, Dos Santos B, Weldon M, Zafar A, Dudman JT, Gerfen CR, Hantman AW, Korff W, Sternson SM, Spruston N, Svoboda K, Chandrashekar J
    Cell. 2019 Sep 19;179(1):268-81. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.07.042

    Neuronal cell types are the nodes of neural circuits that determine the flow of information within the brain. Neuronal morphology, especially the shape of the axonal arbor, provides an essential descriptor of cell type and reveals how individual neurons route their output across the brain. Despite the importance of morphology, few projection neurons in the mouse brain have been reconstructed in their entirety. Here we present a robust and efficient platform for imaging and reconstructing complete neuronal morphologies, including axonal arbors that span substantial portions of the brain. We used this platform to reconstruct more than 1,000 projection neurons in the motor cortex, thalamus, subiculum, and hypothalamus. Together, the reconstructed neurons constitute more than 85 meters of axonal length and are available in a searchable online database. Axonal shapes revealed previously unknown subtypes of projection neurons and suggest organizational principles of long-range connectivity.

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    09/16/19 | A repeated molecular architecture across thalamic pathways.
    Phillips JW, Schulmann A, Hara E, Winnubst J, Liu C, Valakh V, Wang L, Shields BC, Korff W, Chandrashekar J, Lemire AL, Mensh B, Dudman JT, Nelson SB, Hantman AW
    Nature Neuroscience. 2019 Sep 16;22(11):1925-35. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0483-3

    The thalamus is the central communication hub of the forebrain and provides the cerebral cortex with inputs from sensory organs, subcortical systems and the cortex itself. Multiple thalamic regions send convergent information to each cortical region, but the organizational logic of thalamic projections has remained elusive. Through comprehensive transcriptional analyses of retrogradely labeled thalamic neurons in adult mice, we identify three major profiles of thalamic pathways. These profiles exist along a continuum that is repeated across all major projection systems, such as those for vision, motor control and cognition. The largest component of gene expression variation in the mouse thalamus is topographically organized, with features conserved in humans. Transcriptional differences between these thalamic neuronal identities are tied to cellular features that are critical for function, such as axonal morphology and membrane properties. Molecular profiling therefore reveals covariation in the properties of thalamic pathways serving all major input modalities and output targets, thus establishing a molecular framework for understanding the thalamus.

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    09/19/19 | RNA granules hitchhike on lysosomes for long-distance transport, Using annexin A11 as a molecular tether.
    Liao Y, Fernandopulle MS, Wang G, Choi H, Hao L, Drerup CM, Patel R, Qamar S, Nixon-Abell J, Shen Y, Meadows W, Vendruscolo M, Knowles TP, Nelson M, Czekalska MA, Musteikyte G, Gachechiladze MA, Stephens CA, Pasolli HA, Forrest LR, St George-Hyslop P, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Ward ME
    Cell. 2019 Sep 19;179(1):147-164.e20. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.08.050

    Long-distance RNA transport enables local protein synthesis at metabolically-active sites distant from the nucleus. This process ensures an appropriate spatial organization of proteins, vital to polarized cells such as neurons. Here, we present a mechanism for RNA transport in which RNA granules "hitchhike" on moving lysosomes. In vitro biophysical modeling, live-cell microscopy, and unbiased proximity labeling proteomics reveal that annexin A11 (ANXA11), an RNA granule-associated phosphoinositide-binding protein, acts as a molecular tether between RNA granules and lysosomes. ANXA11 possesses an N-terminal low complexity domain, facilitating its phase separation into membraneless RNA granules, and a C-terminal membrane binding domain, enabling interactions with lysosomes. RNA granule transport requires ANXA11, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)-associated mutations in ANXA11 impair RNA granule transport by disrupting their interactions with lysosomes. Thus, ANXA11 mediates neuronal RNA transport by tethering RNA granules to actively-transported lysosomes, performing a critical cellular function that is disrupted in ALS.

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    09/04/19 | Isomeric tuning yields bright and targetable red Ca indicators.
    Deo C, Sheu S, Seo J, Clapham DE, Lavis LD
    Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2019 Sep 04;141(35):13734-13738. doi: 10.1021/jacs.9b06092

    Targeting small-molecule fluorescent indicators using genetically encoded protein tags yields new hybrid sensors for biological imaging. Optimization of such systems requires redesign of the synthetic indicator to allow cell-specific targeting without compromising the photophysical properties or cellular performance of the small-molecule probe. We developed a bright and sensitive Ca indicator by systematically exploring the relative configuration of dye and chelator, which can be targeted using the HaloTag self-labeling tag system. Our "isomeric tuning" approach is generalizable, yielding a far-red targetable indicator to visualize Ca fluxes in the primary cilium.

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