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177 Janelia Publications

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    10/15/19 | The yellow gene influences Drosophila male mating success through sex comb melanization.
    Massey JH, Chung D, Siwanowicz I, Stern DL, Wittkopp PJ
    eLife. 2019 Oct 15;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.49388

    males perform a series of courtship behaviors that, when successful, result in copulation with a female. For over a century, mutations in the gene, named for its effects on pigmentation, have been known to reduce male mating success. Prior work has suggested that influences mating behavior through effects on wing extension, song, and/or courtship vigor. Here, we rule out these explanations, as well as effects on the nervous system more generally, and find instead that the effects of on male mating success are mediated by its effects on pigmentation of male-specific leg structures called sex combs. Loss of expression in these modified bristles reduces their melanization, which changes their structure and causes difficulty grasping females prior to copulation. These data illustrate why the mechanical properties of anatomy, not just neural circuitry, must be considered to fully understand the development and evolution of behavior.

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    10/11/19 | The organization of the second optic chiasm of the optic lobe.
    Shinomiya K, Horne JA, McLin S, Wiederman M, Nern A, Plaza SM, Meinertzhagen IA
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2019 Oct 11;13:65. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2019.00065

    Visual pathways from the compound eye of an insect relay to four neuropils, successively the lamina, medulla, lobula, and lobula plate in the underlying optic lobe. Among these neuropils, the medulla, lobula, and lobula plate are interconnected by the complex second optic chiasm, through which the anteroposterior axis undergoes an inversion between the medulla and lobula. Given their complex structure, the projection patterns through the second optic chiasm have so far lacked critical analysis. By densely reconstructing axon trajectories using a volumetric scanning electron microscopy (SEM) technique, we reveal the three-dimensional structure of the second optic chiasm of , which comprises interleaving bundles and sheets of axons insulated from each other by glial sheaths. These axon bundles invert their horizontal sequence in passing between the medulla and lobula. Axons connecting the medulla and lobula plate are also bundled together with them but do not decussate the sequence of their horizontal positions. They interleave with sheets of projection neuron axons between the lobula and lobula plate, which also lack decussations. We estimate that approximately 19,500 cells per hemisphere, about two thirds of the optic lobe neurons, contribute to the second chiasm, most being Tm cells, with an estimated additional 2,780 T4 and T5 cells each. The chiasm mostly comprises axons and cell body fibers, but also a few synaptic elements. Based on our anatomical findings, we propose that a chiasmal structure between the neuropils is potentially advantageous for processing complex visual information in parallel. The EM reconstruction shows not only the structure of the chiasm in the adult brain, the previously unreported main topic of our study, but also suggest that the projection patterns of the neurons comprising the chiasm may be determined by the proliferation centers from which the neurons develop. Such a complex wiring pattern could, we suggest, only have arisen in several evolutionary steps.

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    10/09/19 | Computational neuroethology: A call to action.
    Datta SR, Anderson DJ, Branson K, Perona P, Leifer A
    Neuron. 2019 Oct 09;104(1):11-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.09.038

    The brain is worthy of study because it is in charge of behavior. A flurry of recent technical advances in measuring and quantifying naturalistic behaviors provide an important opportunity for advancing brain science. However, the problem of understanding unrestrained behavior in the context of neural recordings and manipulations remains unsolved, and developing approaches to addressing this challenge is critical. Here we discuss considerations in computational neuroethology-the science of quantifying naturalistic behaviors for understanding the brain-and propose strategies to evaluate progress. We point to open questions that require resolution and call upon the broader systems neuroscience community to further develop and leverage measures of naturalistic, unrestrained behavior, which will enable us to more effectively probe the richness and complexity of the brain.

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    10/09/19 | Learning from action: reconsidering movement signaling in midbrain dopamine neuron activity.
    Coddington LT, Dudman JT
    Neuron. 2019 Oct 09;104(1):63-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.08.036

    Animals infer when and where a reward is available from experience with informative sensory stimuli and their own actions. In vertebrates, this is thought to depend upon the release of dopamine from midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Studies of the role of dopamine have focused almost exclusively on their encoding of informative sensory stimuli; however, many dopaminergic neurons are active just prior to movement initiation, even in the absence of sensory stimuli. How should current frameworks for understanding the role of dopamine incorporate these observations? To address this question, we review recent anatomical and functional evidence for action-related dopamine signaling. We conclude by proposing a framework in which dopaminergic neurons encode subjective signals of action initiation to solve an internal credit assignment problem.

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    10/06/19 | Expansion microscopy: scalable and convenient super-resolution microscopy.
    Tillberg PW, Chen F
    Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. 2019 Oct 6;35:683-701. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100818-125320

    Expansion microscopy (ExM) is a physical form of magnification that increases the effective resolving power of any microscope. Here, we describe the fundamental principles of ExM, as well as how recently developed ExM variants build upon and apply those principles. We examine applications of ExM in cell and developmental biology for the study of nanoscale structures as well as ExM's potential for scalable mapping of nanoscale structures across large sample volumes. Finally, we explore how the unique anchoring and hydrogel embedding properties enable postexpansion molecular interrogation in a purified chemical environment. ExM promises to play an important role complementary to emerging live-cell imaging techniques, because of its relative ease of adoption and modification and its compatibility with tissue specimens up to at least 200 μm thick. Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 35 is October 7, 2019. Please see for revised estimates.

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    10/06/19 | Light-sheet microscopy and its potential for understanding developmental processes.
    Wan Y, McDole K, Keller PJ
    Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. 2019 Oct 6;35:655-81. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100818-125311

    The ability to visualize and quantitatively measure dynamic biological processes in vivo and at high spatiotemporal resolution is of fundamental importance to experimental investigations in developmental biology. Light-sheet microscopy is particularly well suited to providing such data, since it offers exceptionally high imaging speed and good spatial resolution while minimizing light-induced damage to the specimen. We review core principles and recent advances in light-sheet microscopy, with a focus on concepts and implementations relevant for applications in developmental biology. We discuss how light-sheet microcopy has helped advance our understanding of developmental processes from single-molecule to whole-organism studies, assess the potential for synergies with other state-of-the-art technologies, and introduce methods for computational image and data analysis. Finally, we explore the future trajectory of light-sheet microscopy, discuss key efforts to disseminate new light-sheet technology, and identify exciting opportunities for further advances.

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    10/06/19 | The fly brain atlas.
    Scheffer LK, Meinertzhagen IA
    Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. 2019 Oct 6;35:637-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-100818-125444

    The brain's synaptic networks endow an animal with powerfully adaptive biological behavior. Maps of such synaptic circuits densely reconstructed in those model brains, which can be examined and manipulated by genetic means, offer the best prospect for understanding the underlying biological bases of behavior. That prospect is now technologically feasible and a scientifically enabling possibility in neurobiology, much as genomics has been in molecular biology and genetics. In , two major advances are in electron microscopic technology, using focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) milling to capture and align digital images, and in computer-aided reconstruction of neuron morphologies. The last decade has witnessed enormous progress in detailed knowledge of the actual synaptic circuits formed by real neurons. Advances in various brain regions that heralded identification of the motion-sensing circuits in the optic lobe are now extending to other brain regions, with the prospect of encompassing the fly's entire nervous system, both brain and ventral nerve cord. Expected final online publication date for the Volume 35 is October 7, 2019. Please see for revised estimates.

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    10/01/19 | Genetic dissection of active forgetting in labile and consolidated memories in Drosophila.
    Gao Y, Shuai Y, Zhang X, Peng Y, Wang L, He J, Zhong Y, Li Q
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2019 Oct 01;116(42):21191-97. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1903763116

    Different memory components are forgotten through distinct molecular mechanisms. In , the activation of 2 Rho GTPases (Rac1 and Cdc42), respectively, underlies the forgetting of an early labile memory (anesthesia-sensitive memory, ASM) and a form of consolidated memory (anesthesia-resistant memory, ARM). Here, we dissected the molecular mechanisms that tie Rac1 and Cdc42 to the different types of memory forgetting. We found that 2 WASP family proteins, SCAR/WAVE and WASp, act downstream of Rac1 and Cdc42 separately to regulate ASM and ARM forgetting in mushroom body neurons. Arp2/3 complex, which organizes branched actin polymerization, is a canonical downstream effector of WASP family proteins. However, we found that Arp2/3 complex is required in Cdc42/WASp-mediated ARM forgetting but not in Rac1/SCAR-mediated ASM forgetting. Instead, we identified that Rac1/SCAR may function with formin Diaphanous (Dia), a nucleator that facilitates linear actin polymerization, in ASM forgetting. The present study, complementing the previously identified Rac1/cofilin pathway that regulates actin depolymerization, suggests that Rho GTPases regulate forgetting by recruiting both actin polymerization and depolymerization pathways. Moreover, Rac1 and Cdc42 may regulate different types of memory forgetting by tapping into different actin polymerization mechanisms.

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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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