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5 Janelia Publications

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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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    10/23/19 | Unlimited genetic switches for cell-type-specific manipulation.
    Garcia-Marques J, Yang C, Espinosa-Medina I, Mok K, Koyama M, Lee T
    Neuron. 2019 Oct 23;104(2):227-38. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2019.07.005

    Gaining independent genetic access to discrete cell types is critical to interrogate their biological functions as well as to deliver precise gene therapy. Transcriptomics has allowed us to profile cell populations with extraordinary precision, revealing that cell types are typically defined by a unique combination of genetic markers. Given the lack of adequate tools to target cell types based on multiple markers, most cell types remain inaccessible to genetic manipulation. Here we present CaSSA, a platform to create unlimited genetic switches based on CRISPR/Cas9 (Ca) and the DNA repair mechanism known as single-strand annealing (SSA). CaSSA allows engineering of independent genetic switches, each responding to a specific gRNA. Expressing multiple gRNAs in specific patterns enables multiplex cell-type-specific manipulations and combinatorial genetic targeting. CaSSA is a new genetic tool that conceptually works as an unlimited number of recombinases and will facilitate genetic access to cell types in diverse organisms.

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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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    05/30/19 | CLADES: a programmable sequence of reporters for lineage analysis
    Garcia-Marques J, Yang C, Espinosa-Medina I, Koyama M, Lee T
    bioRxiv. 2019 May 30:. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/655308

    We present CLADES (Cell Lineage Access Driven by an Edition Sequence), a technology for cell lineage studies based on CRISPR/Cas9. CLADES relies on a system of genetic switches to activate and inactivate reporter genes in a pre-determined order. Targeting CLADES to progenitor cells allows the progeny to inherit a sequential cascade of reporters, coupling birth order with reporter expression. This gives us temporal resolution of lineage development that can be used to deconstruct an extended cell lineage by tracking the reporters expressed in the progeny. When targeted to the germ line, the same cascade progresses across animal generations, marking each generation with the corresponding combination of reporters. CLADES thus offers an innovative strategy for making programmable cascades of genes that can be used for genetic manipulation or to record serial biological events.

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    03/26/19 | Neurotransmitter identity is acquired in a lineage-restricted manner in the Drosophila CNS.
    Lacin H, Chen H, Long X, Singer RH, Lee T, Truman JW
    Elife. 2019 Mar 26;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.43701

    The vast majority of the adult fly ventral nerve cord is composed of 34 hemilineages, which are clusters of lineally related neurons. Neurons in these hemilineages use one of the three fast-acting neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, GABA, or glutamate) for communication. We generated a comprehensive neurotransmitter usage map for the entire ventral nerve cord. We did not find any cases of neurons using more than one neurotransmitter, but found that the acetylcholine specific gene ChAT is transcribed in many glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, but these transcripts typically do not leave the nucleus and are not translated. Importantly, our work uncovered a simple rule: All neurons within a hemilineage use the same neurotransmitter. Thus, neurotransmitter identity is acquired at the stem cell level. Our detailed transmitter- usage/lineage identity map will be a great resource for studying the developmental basis of behavior and deciphering how neuronal circuits function to regulate behavior.

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