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40 Janelia Publications

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    Cardona LabZlatic Lab
    10/20/20 | Comparative Connectomics Reveals How Partner Identity, Location, and Activity Specify Synaptic Connectivity in Drosophila.
    Valdes-Aleman J, Fetter RD, Sales EC, Heckman EL, Venkatasubramanian L, Doe CQ, Landgraf M, Cardona A, Zlatic M
    Neuron. 2020 Oct 20:. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.10.004

    The mechanisms by which synaptic partners recognize each other and establish appropriate numbers of connections during embryonic development to form functional neural circuits are poorly understood. We combined electron microscopy reconstruction, functional imaging of neural activity, and behavioral experiments to elucidate the roles of (1) partner identity, (2) location, and (3) activity in circuit assembly in the embryonic nerve cord of Drosophila. We found that postsynaptic partners are able to find and connect to their presynaptic partners even when these have been shifted to ectopic locations or silenced. However, orderly positioning of axon terminals by positional cues and synaptic activity is required for appropriate numbers of connections between specific partners, for appropriate balance between excitatory and inhibitory connections, and for appropriate functional connectivity and behavior. Our study reveals with unprecedented resolution the fine connectivity effects of multiple factors that work together to control the assembly of neural circuits.

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    Cardona Lab
    06/08/20 | The corazonin-PTTH neuronal axis controls systemic body growth by regulating basal ecdysteroid biosynthesis in Drosophila melanogaster.
    Imura E, Shimada-Niwa Y, Nishimura T, Hückesfeld S, Schlegel P, Ohhara Y, Kondo S, Tanimoto H, Cardona A, Pankratz MJ, Niwa R
    Current Biology. 2020 Jun 8;30(11):2156-65. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.03.050

    Steroid hormones play key roles in development, growth, and reproduction in various animal phyla [1]. The insect steroid hormone, ecdysteroid, coordinates growth and maturation, represented by molting and metamorphosis [2]. In Drosophila melanogaster, the prothoracicotropic hormone (PTTH)-producing neurons stimulate peak levels of ecdysteroid biosynthesis for maturation [3]. Additionally, recent studies on PTTH signaling indicated that basal levels of ecdysteroid negatively affect systemic growth prior to maturation [4-8]. However, it remains unclear how PTTH signaling is regulated for basal ecdysteroid biosynthesis. Here, we report that Corazonin (Crz)-producing neurons regulate basal ecdysteroid biosynthesis by affecting PTTH neurons. Crz belongs to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) superfamily, implying an analogous role in growth and maturation [9]. Inhibition of Crz neuronal activity increased pupal size, whereas it hardly affected pupariation timing. This phenotype resulted from enhanced growth rate and a delay in ecdysteroid elevation during the mid-third instar larval (L3) stage. Interestingly, Crz receptor (CrzR) expression in PTTH neurons was higher during the mid- than the late-L3 stage. Silencing of CrzR in PTTH neurons increased pupal size, phenocopying the inhibition of Crz neuronal activity. When Crz neurons were optogenetically activated, a strong calcium response was observed in PTTH neurons during the mid-L3, but not the late-L3, stage. Furthermore, we found that octopamine neurons contact Crz neurons in the subesophageal zone (SEZ), transmitting signals for systemic growth. Together, our results suggest that the Crz-PTTH neuronal axis modulates ecdysteroid biosynthesis in response to octopamine, uncovering a regulatory neuroendocrine system in the developmental transition from growth to maturation.

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    03/23/20 | Recurrent architecture for adaptive regulation of learning in the insect brain.
    Eschbach C, Fushiki A, Winding M, Schneider-Mizell CM, Shao M, Arruda R, Eichler K, Valdes-Aleman J, Ohyama T, Thum AS, Gerber B, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Litwin-Kumar A, Cardona A, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Zlatic M
    Nature Neuroscience. 2020 Mar 23;23(4):544-55. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0607-9

    Dopaminergic neurons (DANs) drive learning across the animal kingdom, but the upstream circuits that regulate their activity and thereby learning remain poorly understood. We provide a synaptic-resolution connectome of the circuitry upstream of all DANs in a learning center, the mushroom body of Drosophila larva. We discover afferent sensory pathways and a large population of neurons that provide feedback from mushroom body output neurons and link distinct memory systems (aversive and appetitive). We combine this with functional studies of DANs and their presynaptic partners and with comprehensive circuit modeling. We find that DANs compare convergent feedback from aversive and appetitive systems, which enables the computation of integrated predictions that may improve future learning. Computational modeling reveals that the discovered feedback motifs increase model flexibility and performance on learning tasks. Our study provides the most detailed view to date of biological circuit motifs that support associative learning.

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    02/14/20 | Identifying neural substrates of competitive interactions and sequence transitions during mechanosensory responses in Drosophila.
    Masson J, Laurent F, Cardona A, Barre C, Skatchkovsky N, Zlatic M, Jovanic T
    PLoS Genetics. 2020 Feb 14;16(2):e1008589. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008589

    Nervous systems have the ability to select appropriate actions and action sequences in response to sensory cues. The circuit mechanisms by which nervous systems achieve choice, stability and transitions between behaviors are still incompletely understood. To identify neurons and brain areas involved in controlling these processes, we combined a large-scale neuronal inactivation screen with automated action detection in response to a mechanosensory cue in Drosophila larva. We analyzed behaviors from 2.9x105 larvae and identified 66 candidate lines for mechanosensory responses out of which 25 for competitive interactions between actions. We further characterize in detail the neurons in these lines and analyzed their connectivity using electron microscopy. We found the neurons in the mechanosensory network are located in different regions of the nervous system consistent with a distributed model of sensorimotor decision-making. These findings provide the basis for understanding how selection and transition between behaviors are controlled by the nervous system.

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    09/01/19 | BigStitcher: reconstructing high-resolution image datasets of cleared and expanded samples.
    Hörl D, Rojas Rusak F, Preusser F, Tillberg P, Randel N, Chhetri RK, Cardona A, Keller PJ, Harz H, Leonhardt H, Treier M, Preibisch S
    Nature Methods. 2019 Sep;16(9):870-74. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0501-0

    Light-sheet imaging of cleared and expanded samples creates terabyte-sized datasets that consist of many unaligned three-dimensional image tiles, which must be reconstructed before analysis. We developed the BigStitcher software to address this challenge. BigStitcher enables interactive visualization, fast and precise alignment, spatially resolved quality estimation, real-time fusion and deconvolution of dual-illumination, multitile, multiview datasets. The software also compensates for optical effects, thereby improving accuracy and enabling subsequent biological analysis.

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    Truman LabCardona Lab
    06/14/19 | Regulation of forward and backward locomotion through intersegmental feedback circuits in Drosophila larvae.
    Kohsaka H, Zwart MF, Fushiki A, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Cardona A, Nose A
    Nature Communications. 2019 Jun 14;10(1):2654. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10695-y

    Animal locomotion requires spatiotemporally coordinated contraction of muscles throughout the body. Here, we investigate how contractions of antagonistic groups of muscles are intersegmentally coordinated during bidirectional crawling of Drosophila larvae. We identify two pairs of higher-order premotor excitatory interneurons present in each abdominal neuromere that intersegmentally provide feedback to the adjacent neuromere during motor propagation. The two feedback neuron pairs are differentially active during either forward or backward locomotion but commonly target a group of premotor interneurons that together provide excitatory inputs to transverse muscles and inhibitory inputs to the antagonistic longitudinal muscles. Inhibition of either feedback neuron pair compromises contraction of transverse muscles in a direction-specific manner. Our results suggest that the intersegmental feedback neurons coordinate contraction of synergistic muscles by acting as delay circuits representing the phase lag between segments. The identified circuit architecture also shows how bidirectional motor networks could be economically embedded in the nervous system.

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    Cardona LabTruman LabZlatic Lab
    01/29/19 | Neural substrates of Drosophila larval anemotaxis.
    Jovanic T, Winding M, Cardona A, Truman JW, Gershow M, Zlatic M
    Current Biology : CB. 2019 Jan 29;29(4):554-66. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.009

    Animals use sensory information to move toward more favorable conditions. Drosophila larvae can move up or down gradients of odors (chemotax), light (phototax), and temperature (thermotax) by modulating the probability, direction, and size of turns based on sensory input. Whether larvae can anemotax in gradients of mechanosensory cues is unknown. Further, although many of the sensory neurons that mediate taxis have been described, the central circuits are not well understood. Here, we used high-throughput, quantitative behavioral assays to demonstrate Drosophila larvae anemotax in gradients of wind speeds and to characterize the behavioral strategies involved. We found that larvae modulate the probability, direction, and size of turns to move away from higher wind speeds. This suggests that similar central decision-making mechanisms underlie taxis in somatosensory and other sensory modalities. By silencing the activity of single or very few neuron types in a behavioral screen, we found two sensory (chordotonal and multidendritic class III) and six nerve cord neuron types involved in anemotaxis. We reconstructed the identified neurons in an electron microscopy volume that spans the entire larval nervous system and found they received direct input from the mechanosensory neurons or from each other. In this way, we identified local interneurons and first- and second-order subesophageal zone (SEZ) and brain projection neurons. Finally, silencing a dopaminergic brain neuron type impairs anemotaxis. These findings suggest that anemotaxis involves both nerve cord and brain circuits. The candidate neurons and circuitry identified in our study provide a basis for future detailed mechanistic understanding of the circuit principles of anemotaxis.

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    Cardona Lab
    01/15/19 | Developmentally arrested precursors of pontine neurons establish an embryonic blueprint of the Drosophila central complex.
    Andrade IV, Riebli N, Nguyen BM, Omoto JJ, Cardona A, Hartenstein V
    Current Biology : CB. 2019 Jan 15;29(3):412-25. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.012

    Serial electron microscopic analysis shows that the Drosophila brain at hatching possesses a large fraction of developmentally arrested neurons with a small soma, heterochromatin-rich nucleus, and unbranched axon lacking synapses. We digitally reconstructed all 802 "small undifferentiated" (SU) neurons and assigned them to the known brain lineages. By establishing the coordinates and reconstructing trajectories of the SU neuron tracts, we provide a framework of landmarks for the ongoing analyses of the L1 brain circuitry. To address the later fate of SU neurons, we focused on the 54 SU neurons belonging to the DM1-DM4 lineages, which generate all columnar neurons of the central complex. Regarding their topologically ordered projection pattern, these neurons form an embryonic nucleus of the fan-shaped body ("FB pioneers"). Fan-shaped body pioneers survive into the adult stage, where they develop into a specific class of bi-columnar elements, the pontine neurons. Later born, unicolumnar DM1-DM4 neurons fasciculate with the fan-shaped body pioneers. Selective ablation of the fan-shaped body pioneers altered the architecture of the larval fan-shaped body primordium but did not result in gross abnormalities of the trajectories of unicolumnar neurons, indicating that axonal pathfinding of the two systems may be controlled independently. Our comprehensive spatial and developmental analysis of the SU neurons adds to our understanding of the establishment of neuronal circuitry.

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    Fetter LabTruman LabCardona Lab
    12/11/18 | Convergence of monosynaptic and polysynaptic sensory paths onto common motor outputs in a feeding connectome.
    Miroschnikow A, Schlegel P, Schoofs A, Hueckesfeld S, Li F, Schneider-Mizell CM, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Cardona A, Pankratz MJ
    eLife. 2018 Dec 11;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.40247

    We reconstructed, from a whole CNS EM volume, the synaptic map of input and output neurons that underlie food intake behavior of larvae. Input neurons originate from enteric, pharyngeal and external sensory organs and converge onto seven distinct sensory synaptic compartments within the CNS. Output neurons consist of feeding motor, serotonergic modulatory and neuroendocrine neurons. Monosynaptic connections from a set of sensory synaptic compartments cover the motor, modulatory and neuroendocrine targets in overlapping domains. Polysynaptic routes are superimposed on top of monosynaptic connections, resulting in divergent sensory paths that converge on common outputs. A completely different set of sensory compartments is connected to the mushroom body calyx. The mushroom body output neurons are connected to interneurons that directly target the feeding output neurons. Our results illustrate a circuit architecture in which monosynaptic and multisynaptic connections from sensory inputs traverse onto output neurons via a series of converging paths.

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    Truman LabZlatic LabCardona Lab
    11/22/18 | Sensorimotor pathway controlling stopping behavior during chemotaxis in the larva.
    Tastekin I, Khandelwal A, Tadres D, Fessner ND, Truman JW, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Louis M
    eLife. 2018 Nov 22;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.38740

    Sensory navigation results from coordinated transitions between distinct behavioral programs. During chemotaxis in the larva, the detection of positive odor gradients extends runs while negative gradients promote stops and turns. This algorithm represents a foundation for the control of sensory navigation across phyla. In the present work, we identified an olfactory descending neuron, PDM-DN, which plays a pivotal role in the organization of stops and turns in response to the detection of graded changes in odor concentrations. Artificial activation of this descending neuron induces deterministic stops followed by the initiation of turning maneuvers through head casts. Using electron microscopy, we reconstructed the main pathway that connects the PDM-DN neuron to the peripheral olfactory system and to the pre-motor circuit responsible for the actuation of forward peristalsis. Our results set the stage for a detailed mechanistic analysis of the sensorimotor conversion of graded olfactory inputs into action selection to perform goal-oriented navigation.

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