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6 Janelia Publications

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    04/01/20 | 3D ATAC-PALM: super-resolution imaging of the accessible genome.
    Xie L, Dong P, Chen X, Hsieh TS, Banala S, De Marzio M, English BP, Qi Y, Jung SK, Kieffer-Kwon K, Legant WR, Hansen AS, Schulmann A, Casellas R, Zhang B, Betzig E, Lavis LD, Chang HY, Tjian R, Liu Z
    Nature Methods. 2020 Apr 01;17(4):430-6. doi: 10.1038/s41592-020-0775-2

    To image the accessible genome at nanometer scale in situ, we developed three-dimensional assay for transposase-accessible chromatin-photoactivated localization microscopy (3D ATAC-PALM) that integrates an assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with visualization, PALM super-resolution imaging and lattice light-sheet microscopy. Multiplexed with oligopaint DNA–fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), RNA–FISH and protein fluorescence, 3D ATAC-PALM connected microscopy and genomic data, revealing spatially segregated accessible chromatin domains (ACDs) that enclose active chromatin and transcribed genes. Using these methods to analyze genetically perturbed cells, we demonstrated that genome architectural protein CTCF prevents excessive clustering of accessible chromatin and decompacts ACDs. These results highlight 3D ATAC-PALM as a useful tool to probe the structure and organizing mechanism of the genome.

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    08/03/16 | Real-time imaging of Huntingtin aggregates diverting target search and gene transcription.
    Li L, Liu H, Dong P, Li D, Legant WR, Grimm JB, Lavis LD, Betzig E, Tjian R, Liu Z
    eLife. 2016 Aug 03;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.17056

    The presumptive altered dynamics of transient molecular interactions in vivo contributing to neurodegenerative diseases have remained elusive. Here, using single-molecule localization microscopy, we show that disease-inducing Huntingtin (mHtt) protein fragments display three distinct dynamic states in living cells - 1) fast diffusion, 2) dynamic clustering and 3) stable aggregation. Large, stable aggregates of mHtt exclude chromatin and form 'sticky' decoy traps that impede target search processes of key regulators involved in neurological disorders. Functional domain mapping based on super-resolution imaging reveals an unexpected role of aromatic amino acids in promoting protein-mHtt aggregate interactions. Genome-wide expression analysis and numerical simulation experiments suggest mHtt aggregates reduce transcription factor target site sampling frequency and impair critical gene expression programs in striatal neurons. Together, our results provide insights into how mHtt dynamically forms aggregates and disrupts the finely-balanced gene control mechanisms in neuronal cells.

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    05/21/15 | Imaging live-cell dynamics and structure at the single-molecule level.
    Liu Z, Lavis LD, Betzig E
    Molecular Cell. 2015 May 21;58(4):644-59. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2015.02.033

    Observation of molecular processes inside living cells is fundamental to a quantitative understanding of how biological systems function. Specifically, decoding the complex behavior of single molecules enables us to measure kinetics, transport, and self-assembly at this fundamental level that is often veiled in ensemble experiments. In the past decade, rapid developments in fluorescence microscopy, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and fluorescent labeling techniques have enabled new experiments to investigate the robustness and stochasticity of diverse molecular mechanisms with high spatiotemporal resolution. This review discusses the concepts and strategies of structural and functional imaging in living cells at the single-molecule level with minimal perturbations to the specimen.

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    12/24/14 | 3D imaging of Sox2 enhancer clusters in embryonic stem cells.
    Liu Z, Legant WR, Chen B, Li L, Grimm JB, Lavis LD, Betzig E, Tjian R
    eLife. 2014 Dec 24;3:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04236

    Combinatorial cis-regulatory networks encoded in animal genomes represent the foundational gene expression mechanism for directing cell-fate commitment and maintenance of cell identity by transcription factors (TFs). However, the 3D spatial organization of cis-elements and how such sub-nuclear structures influence TF activity remain poorly understood. Here, we combine lattice light-sheet imaging, single-molecule tracking, numerical simulations, and ChIP-exo mapping to localize and functionally probe Sox2 enhancer-organization in living embryonic stem cells. Sox2 enhancers form 3D-clusters that are segregated from heterochromatin but overlap with a subset of Pol II enriched regions. Sox2 searches for specific binding targets via a 3D-diffusion dominant mode when shuttling long-distances between clusters while chromatin-bound states predominate within individual clusters. Thus, enhancer clustering may reduce global search efficiency but enables rapid local fine-tuning of TF search parameters. Our results suggest an integrated model linking cis-element 3D spatial distribution to local-versus-global target search modalities essential for regulating eukaryotic gene transcription.

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    10/24/14 | Lattice light-sheet microscopy: imaging molecules to embryos at high spatiotemporal resolution.
    Chen B, Legant WR, Wang K, Shao L, Milkie DE, Davidson MW, Janetopoulos C, Wu XS, Hammer JA, Liu Z, English BP, Mimori-Kiyosue Y, Romero DP, Ritter AT, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Fritz-Laylin L, Mullins RD, Mitchell DM, Bembenek JN, Reymann A, Böhme R, Grill SW, Wang JT, Seydoux G, Tulu US, Kiehart DP, Betzig E
    Science. 2014 Oct 24;346(6208):1257998. doi: 10.1126/science.1257998

    Although fluorescence microscopy provides a crucial window into the physiology of living specimens, many biological processes are too fragile, are too small, or occur too rapidly to see clearly with existing tools. We crafted ultrathin light sheets from two-dimensional optical lattices that allowed us to image three-dimensional (3D) dynamics for hundreds of volumes, often at subsecond intervals, at the diffraction limit and beyond. We applied this to systems spanning four orders of magnitude in space and time, including the diffusion of single transcription factor molecules in stem cell spheroids, the dynamic instability of mitotic microtubules, the immunological synapse, neutrophil motility in a 3D matrix, and embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster. The results provide a visceral reminder of the beauty and the complexity of living systems.

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    03/13/14 | Single-molecule dynamics of enhanceosome assembly in embryonic stem cells.
    Chen J, Zhang Z, Li Li , Chen B, Revyakin A, Hajj B, Legant W, Dahan M, Lionnet T, Betzig E, Tjian R, Liu Z
    Cell. 2014 Mar 13;156:1274-85. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.01.062

    Enhancer-binding pluripotency regulators (Sox2 and Oct4) play a seminal role in embryonic stem (ES) cell-specific gene regulation. Here, we combine in vivo and in vitro single-molecule imaging, transcription factor (TF) mutagenesis, and ChIP-exo mapping to determine how TFs dynamically search for and assemble on their cognate DNA target sites. We find that enhanceosome assembly is hierarchically ordered with kinetically favored Sox2 engaging the target DNA first, followed by assisted binding of Oct4. Sox2/Oct4 follow a trial-and-error sampling mechanism involving 84-97 events of 3D diffusion (3.3-3.7 s) interspersed with brief nonspecific collisions (0.75-0.9 s) before acquiring and dwelling at specific target DNA (12.0-14.6 s). Sox2 employs a 3D diffusion-dominated search mode facilitated by 1D sliding along open DNA to efficiently locate targets. Our findings also reveal fundamental aspects of gene and developmental regulation by fine-tuning TF dynamics and influence of the epigenome on target search parameters.

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