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52 Janelia Publications

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    11/01/21 | An open-access volume electron microscopy atlas of whole cells and tissues.
    Xu CS, Pang S, Shtengel G, Müller A, Ritter AT, Hoffman HK, Takemura S, Lu Z, Pasolli HA, Iyer N, Chung J, Bennett D, Weigel AV, Freeman M, Van Engelenburg SB, Walther TC, Farese RV, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Mellman I, Solimena M, Hess HF
    Nature. 2021 Nov 1;599(7883):147-51. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03992-4

    Understanding cellular architecture is essential for understanding biology. Electron microscopy (EM) uniquely visualizes cellular structures with nanometre resolution. However, traditional methods, such as thin-section EM or EM tomography, have limitations in that they visualize only a single slice or a relatively small volume of the cell, respectively. Focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) has demonstrated the ability to image small volumes of cellular samples with 4-nm isotropic voxels. Owing to advances in the precision and stability of FIB milling, together with enhanced signal detection and faster SEM scanning, we have increased the volume that can be imaged with 4-nm voxels by two orders of magnitude. Here we present a volume EM atlas at such resolution comprising ten three-dimensional datasets for whole cells and tissues, including cancer cells, immune cells, mouse pancreatic islets and Drosophila neural tissues. These open access data (via OpenOrganelle) represent the foundation of a field of high-resolution whole-cell volume EM and subsequent analyses, and we invite researchers to explore this atlas and pose questions.

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    11/01/21 | Whole-cell organelle segmentation in volume electron microscopy.
    Heinrich L, Bennett D, Ackerman D, Park W, Bogovic J, Eckstein N, Petruncio A, Clements J, Pang S, Xu CS, Funke J, Korff W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Saalfeld S, Weigel AV, COSEM Project Team
    Nature. 2021 Nov 01;599(7883):141-46. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03977-3

    Cells contain hundreds of organelles and macromolecular assemblies. Obtaining a complete understanding of their intricate organization requires the nanometre-level, three-dimensional reconstruction of whole cells, which is only feasible with robust and scalable automatic methods. Here, to support the development of such methods, we annotated up to 35 different cellular organelle classes-ranging from endoplasmic reticulum to microtubules to ribosomes-in diverse sample volumes from multiple cell types imaged at a near-isotropic resolution of 4 nm per voxel with focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). We trained deep learning architectures to segment these structures in 4 nm and 8 nm per voxel FIB-SEM volumes, validated their performance and showed that automatic reconstructions can be used to directly quantify previously inaccessible metrics including spatial interactions between cellular components. We also show that such reconstructions can be used to automatically register light and electron microscopy images for correlative studies. We have created an open data and open-source web repository, 'OpenOrganelle', to share the data, computer code and trained models, which will enable scientists everywhere to query and further improve automatic reconstruction of these datasets.

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    09/28/21 | A serotonergic axon-cilium synapse drives nuclear signaling to maintain chromatin accessibility
    Shu-Hsien Sheu , Srigokul Upadhyayula , Vincent Dupuy , Song Pang , Andrew L. Lemire , Deepika Walpita , H. Amalia Pasolli , Fei Deng , Jinxia Wan , Lihua Wang , Justin Houser , Silvia Sanchez-Martinez , Sebastian E. Brauchi , Sambashiva Banala , Melanie Freeman , C. Shan Xu , Tom Kirchhausen , Harald F. Hess , Luke Lavis , Yu-Long Li , Séverine Chaumont-Dubel , David E. Clapham
    bioRxiv. 2021 Sep 28:

    Chemical synapses between axons and dendrites mediate much of the brain’s intercellular communication. Here we describe a new kind of synapse – the axo-ciliary synapse - between axons and primary cilia. By employing enhanced focused ion beam – scanning electron microscopy on samples with optimally preserved ultrastructure, we discovered synapses between the serotonergic axons arising from the brainstem, and the primary cilia of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. Functionally, these cilia are enriched in a ciliary-restricted serotonin receptor, 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 6 (HTR6), whose mutation is associated with learning and memory defects. Using a newly developed cilia-targeted serotonin sensor, we show that optogenetic stimulation of serotonergic axons results in serotonin release onto cilia. Ciliary HTR6 stimulation activates a non-canonical Gαq/11-RhoA pathway. Ablation of this pathway results in nuclear actin and chromatin accessibility changes in CA1 pyramidal neurons. Axo-ciliary synapses serve as a distinct mechanism for neuromodulators to program neuron transcription through privileged access to the nuclear compartment.

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    04/29/21 | ER-to-Golgi protein delivery through an interwoven, tubular network extending from ER.
    Weigel AV, Chang C, Shtengel G, Xu CS, Hoffman DP, Freeman M, Iyer N, Aaron J, Khuon S, Bogovic J, Qiu W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Cell. 2021 Apr 29;184(9):2412. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.035

    Cellular versatility depends on accurate trafficking of diverse proteins to their organellar destinations. For the secretory pathway (followed by approximately 30% of all proteins), the physical nature of the vessel conducting the first portage (endoplasmic reticulum [ER] to Golgi apparatus) is unclear. We provide a dynamic 3D view of early secretory compartments in mammalian cells with isotropic resolution and precise protein localization using whole-cell, focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy with cryo-structured illumination microscopy and live-cell synchronized cargo release approaches. Rather than vesicles alone, the ER spawns an elaborate, interwoven tubular network of contiguous lipid bilayers (ER exit site) for protein export. This receptacle is capable of extending microns along microtubules while still connected to the ER by a thin neck. COPII localizes to this neck region and dynamically regulates cargo entry from the ER, while COPI acts more distally, escorting the detached, accelerating tubular entity on its way to joining the Golgi apparatus through microtubule-directed movement.

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    02/25/21 | Protocol for preparation of heterogeneous biological samples for 3D electron microscopy: a case study for insects.
    Polilov AA, Makarova AA, Pang S, Shan Xu C, Hess H
    Scientific Reports. 2021 Feb 25;11(1):4717. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83936-0

    Modern morphological and structural studies are coming to a new level by incorporating the latest methods of three-dimensional electron microscopy (3D-EM). One of the key problems for the wide usage of these methods is posed by difficulties with sample preparation, since the methods work poorly with heterogeneous (consisting of tissues different in structure and in chemical composition) samples and require expensive equipment and usually much time. We have developed a simple protocol allows preparing heterogeneous biological samples suitable for 3D-EM in a laboratory that has a standard supply of equipment and reagents for electron microscopy. This protocol, combined with focused ion-beam scanning electron microscopy, makes it possible to study 3D ultrastructure of complex biological samples, e.g., whole insect heads, over their entire volume at the cellular and subcellular levels. The protocol provides new opportunities for many areas of study, including connectomics.

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    02/01/21 | 3D FIB-SEM reconstruction of microtubule-organelle interaction in whole primary mouse β cells.
    Müller A, Schmidt D, Xu CS, Pang S, D'Costa JV, Kretschmar S, Münster C, Kurth T, Jug F, Weigert M, Hess HF, Solimena M
    Journal of Cell Biology. 2021 Feb 01;220(2):. doi: 10.1083/jcb.202010039

    Microtubules play a major role in intracellular trafficking of vesicles in endocrine cells. Detailed knowledge of microtubule organization and their relation to other cell constituents is crucial for understanding cell function. However, their role in insulin transport and secretion is under debate. Here, we use FIB-SEM to image islet β cells in their entirety with unprecedented resolution. We reconstruct mitochondria, Golgi apparati, centrioles, insulin secretory granules, and microtubules of seven β cells, and generate a comprehensive spatial map of microtubule-organelle interactions. We find that microtubules form nonradial networks that are predominantly not connected to either centrioles or endomembranes. Microtubule number and length, but not microtubule polymer density, vary with glucose stimulation. Furthermore, insulin secretory granules are enriched near the plasma membrane, where they associate with microtubules. In summary, we provide the first 3D reconstructions of complete microtubule networks in primary mammalian cells together with evidence regarding their importance for insulin secretory granule positioning and thus their supportive role in insulin secretion.

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    09/23/20 | Chromatin arranges in chains of mesoscale domains with nanoscale functional topography independent of cohesin.
    Miron E, Oldenkamp R, Brown JM, Pinto DM, Xu CS, Faria AR, Shaban HA, Rhodes JD, Innocent C, de Ornellas S, Hess HF, Buckle V, Schermelleh L
    Science Advances. 2020 Sep 23;6(39):. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba8811

    Three-dimensional (3D) chromatin organization plays a key role in regulating mammalian genome function; however, many of its physical features at the single-cell level remain underexplored. Here, we use live- and fixed-cell 3D super-resolution and scanning electron microscopy to analyze structural and functional nuclear organization in somatic cells. We identify chains of interlinked ~200- to 300-nm-wide chromatin domains (CDs) composed of aggregated nucleosomes that can overlap with individual topologically associating domains and are distinct from a surrounding RNA-populated interchromatin compartment. High-content mapping uncovers confinement of cohesin and active histone modifications to surfaces and enrichment of repressive modifications toward the core of CDs in both hetero- and euchromatic regions. This nanoscale functional topography is temporarily relaxed in postreplicative chromatin but remarkably persists after ablation of cohesin. Our findings establish CDs as physical and functional modules of mesoscale genome organization.

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    09/03/20 | A connectome of the adult drosophila central brain.
    Xu CS, Januszewski M, Lu Z, Takemura S, Hayworth KJ, Huang G, Shinomiya K, Maitin-Shepard J, Ackerman D, Berg S, Blakely T, Bogovic J, Clements J, Dolafi T, Hubbard P, Kainmueller D, Katz W, Kawase T, Khairy KA, Leavitt L, Li PH, Lindsey L, Neubarth N, Olbris DJ, Otsuna H, Troutman ET, Umayam L, Zhao T, Ito M, Goldammer J, Wolff T, Svirskas R, Schlegel P, Neace ER, Knecht CJ, Alvarado CX, Bailey DA, Ballinger S, Borycz JA, Canino BS
    eLife. 2020 Sep 03:. doi:

    The neural circuits responsible for behavior remain largely unknown. Previous efforts have reconstructed the complete circuits of small animals, with hundreds of neurons, and selected circuits for larger animals. Here we (the FlyEM project at Janelia and collaborators at Google) summarize new methods and present the complete circuitry of a large fraction of the brain of a much more complex animal, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Improved methods include new procedures to prepare, image, align, segment, find synapses, and proofread such large data sets; new methods that define cell types based on connectivity in addition to morphology; and new methods to simplify access to a large and evolving data set. From the resulting data we derive a better definition of computational compartments and their connections; an exhaustive atlas of cell examples and types, many of them novel; detailed circuits for most of the central brain; and exploration of the statistics and structure of different brain compartments, and the brain as a whole. We make the data public, with a web site and resources specifically designed to make it easy to explore, for all levels of expertise from the expert to the merely curious. The public availability of these data, and the simplified means to access it, dramatically reduces the effort needed to answer typical circuit questions, such as the identity of upstream and downstream neural partners, the circuitry of brain regions, and to link the neurons defined by our analysis with genetic reagents that can be used to study their functions.

    Note: In the next few weeks, we will release a series of papers with more involved discussions. One paper will detail the hemibrain reconstruction with more extensive analysis and interpretation made possible by this dense connectome. Another paper will explore the central complex, a brain region involved in navigation, motor control, and sleep. A final paper will present insights from the mushroom body, a center of multimodal associative learning in the fly brain.

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    06/02/20 | Chloroplast Sec14-like 1 (CPSFL1) is essential for normal chloroplast development and affects carotenoid accumulation in Chlamydomonas.
    García-Cerdán JG, Schmid EM, Takeuchi T, McRae I, McDonald KL, Yordduangjun N, Hassan AM, Grob P, Xu CS, Hess HF, Fletcher DA, Nogales E, Niyogi KK
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U S A. 2020 Jun 2;117(22):1-12. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1916948117

    Plastid isoprenoid-derived carotenoids serve essential roles in chloroplast development and photosynthesis. Although nearly all enzymes that participate in the biosynthesis of carotenoids in plants have been identified, the complement of auxiliary proteins that regulate synthesis, transport, sequestration, and degradation of these molecules and their isoprenoid precursors have not been fully described. To identify such proteins that are necessary for the optimal functioning of oxygenic photosynthesis, we screened a large collection of nonphotosynthetic (acetate-requiring) DNA insertional mutants of and isolated The mutant is extremely light-sensitive and susceptible to photoinhibition and photobleaching. The gene encodes a CRAL-TRIO hydrophobic ligand-binding (Sec14) domain protein. Proteins containing this domain are limited to eukaryotes, but some may have been retargeted to function in organelles of endosymbiotic origin. The mutant showed decreased accumulation of plastidial isoprenoid-derived pigments, especially carotenoids, and whole-cell focused ion-beam scanning-electron microscopy revealed a deficiency of carotenoid-rich chloroplast structures (e.g., eyespot and plastoglobules). The low carotenoid content resulted from impaired biosynthesis at a step prior to phytoene, the committed precursor to carotenoids. The CPSFL1 protein bound phytoene and β-carotene when expressed in and phosphatidic acid in vitro. We suggest that CPSFL1 is involved in the regulation of phytoene synthesis and carotenoid transport and thereby modulates carotenoid accumulation in the chloroplast.

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    01/17/20 | Correlative three-dimensional super-resolution and block-face electron microscopy of whole vitreously frozen cells.
    Hoffman DP, Shtengel G, Xu CS, Campbell KR, Freeman M, Wang L, Milkie DE, Pasolli HA, Iyer N, Bogovic JA, Stabley DR, Shirinifard A, Pang S, Peale D, Schaefer K, Pomp W, Chang C, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Kirchhausen T, Solecki DJ, Betzig E, Hess HF
    Science. 2020 Jan 17;367(6475):. doi: 10.1126/science.aaz5357

    Within cells, the spatial compartmentalization of thousands of distinct proteins serves a multitude of diverse biochemical needs. Correlative super-resolution (SR) fluorescence and electron microscopy (EM) can elucidate protein spatial relationships to global ultrastructure, but has suffered from tradeoffs of structure preservation, fluorescence retention, resolution, and field of view. We developed a platform for three-dimensional cryogenic SR and focused ion beam-milled block-face EM across entire vitreously frozen cells. The approach preserves ultrastructure while enabling independent SR and EM workflow optimization. We discovered unexpected protein-ultrastructure relationships in mammalian cells including intranuclear vesicles containing endoplasmic reticulum-associated proteins, web-like adhesions between cultured neurons, and chromatin domains subclassified on the basis of transcriptional activity. Our findings illustrate the value of a comprehensive multimodal view of ultrastructural variability across whole cells.

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