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7 Janelia Publications

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    12/11/15 | Synthesis of a far-red photoactivatable silicon-containing rhodamine for super-resolution microscopy.
    Grimm JB, Klein T, Kopek BG, Shtengel G, Hess HF, Sauer M, Lavis LD
    Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English). 2015 Dec 11;55(5):1723-7. doi: 10.1002/anie.201509649

    The rhodamine system is a flexible framework for building small-molecule fluorescent probes. Changing N-substitution patterns and replacing the xanthene oxygen with a dimethylsilicon moiety can shift the absorption and fluorescence emission maxima of rhodamine dyes to longer wavelengths. Acylation of the rhodamine nitrogen atoms forces the molecule to adopt a nonfluorescent lactone form, providing a convenient method to make fluorogenic compounds. Herein, we take advantage of all of these structural manipulations and describe a novel photoactivatable fluorophore based on a Si-containing analogue of Q-rhodamine. This probe is the first example of a "caged" Si-rhodamine, exhibits higher photon counts compared to established localization microscopy dyes, and is sufficiently red-shifted to allow multicolor imaging. The dye is a useful label for super-resolution imaging and constitutes a new scaffold for far-red fluorogenic molecules.

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    11/03/15 | Synaptic circuits and their variations within different columns in the visual system of Drosophila.
    Takemura S, Xu CS, Lu Z, Rivlin PK, Parag T, Olbris DJ, Plaza S, Zhao T, Katz WT, Umayam L, Weaver C, Hess HF, Horne JA, Nunez-Iglesias J, Aniceto R, Chang L, Lauchie S, Nasca A, Ogundeyi O, Sigmund C, Takemura S, Tran J, Langille C, Le Lacheur K, McLin S, Shinomiya A, Chklovskii DB, Meinertzhagen IA, Scheffer LK
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 Nov 3;112(44):13711-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1509820112

    We reconstructed the synaptic circuits of seven columns in the second neuropil or medulla behind the fly's compound eye. These neurons embody some of the most stereotyped circuits in one of the most miniaturized of animal brains. The reconstructions allow us, for the first time to our knowledge, to study variations between circuits in the medulla's neighboring columns. This variation in the number of synapses and the types of their synaptic partners has previously been little addressed because methods that visualize multiple circuits have not resolved detailed connections, and existing connectomic studies, which can see such connections, have not so far examined multiple reconstructions of the same circuit. Here, we address the omission by comparing the circuits common to all seven columns to assess variation in their connection strengths and the resultant rates of several different and distinct types of connection error. Error rates reveal that, overall, <1% of contacts are not part of a consensus circuit, and we classify those contacts that supplement (E+) or are missing from it (E-). Autapses, in which the same cell is both presynaptic and postsynaptic at the same synapse, are occasionally seen; two cells in particular, Dm9 and Mi1, form ≥20-fold more autapses than do other neurons. These results delimit the accuracy of developmental events that establish and normally maintain synaptic circuits with such precision, and thereby address the operation of such circuits. They also establish a precedent for error rates that will be required in the new science of connectomics.

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    10/14/15 | The 2015 super-resolution microscopy roadmap.
    Hell SW, Sahl SJ, Bates M, Zhuang X, Heintzmann R, Booth MJ, Bewersdorf J, Shtengel G, Hess HF, Tinnefeld P
    Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. 2015 Oct 14;48:443001. doi: 10.1088/0022-3727/48/44/443001

    Far-field optical microscopy using focused light is an important tool in a number of scientific disciplines including chemical, (bio)physical and biomedical research, particularly with respect to the study of living cells and organisms. Unfortunately, the applicability of the optical microscope is limited, since the diffraction of light imposes limitations on the spatial resolution of the image. Consequently the details of, for example, cellular protein distributions, can be visualized only to a certain extent. Fortunately, recent years have witnessed the development of 'super-resolution' far-field optical microscopy (nanoscopy) techniques such as stimulated emission depletion (STED), ground state depletion (GSD), reversible saturated optical (fluorescence) transitions (RESOLFT), photoactivation localization microscopy (PALM), stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), structured illumination microscopy (SIM) or saturated structured illumination microscopy (SSIM), all in one way or another addressing the problem of the limited spatial resolution of far-field optical microscopy. While SIM achieves a two-fold improvement in spatial resolution compared to conventional optical microscopy, STED, RESOLFT, PALM/STORM, or SSIM have all gone beyond, pushing the limits of optical image resolution to the nanometer scale. Consequently, all super-resolution techniques open new avenues of biomedical research. Because the field is so young, the potential capabilities of different super-resolution microscopy approaches have yet to be fully explored, and uncertainties remain when considering the best choice of methodology. Thus, even for experts, the road to the future is sometimes shrouded in mist. The super-resolution optical microscopy roadmap of Journal of Physics D: Applied Physicsaddresses this need for clarity. It provides guidance to the outstanding questions through a collection of short review articles from experts in the field, giving a thorough discussion on the concepts underlying super-resolution optical microscopy, the potential of different approaches, the importance of label optimization (such as reversible photoswitchable proteins) and applications in which these methods will have a significant impact.

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    06/08/15 | Molecular mechanism of vinculin activation and nanoscale spatial organization in focal adhesions.
    Case LB, Baird MA, Shtengel G, Campbell SL, Hess HF, Davidson MW, Waterman CM
    Nature Cell Biology. 2015 Jun 8;17(7):880-92. doi: 10.1038/ncb3180

    Focal adhesions (FAs) link the extracellular matrix to the actin cytoskeleton to mediate cell adhesion, migration, mechanosensing and signalling. FAs have conserved nanoscale protein organization, suggesting that the position of proteins within FAs regulates their activity and function. Vinculin binds different FA proteins to mediate distinct cellular functions, but how vinculin's interactions are spatiotemporally organized within FAs is unknown. Using interferometric photoactivation localization super-resolution microscopy to assay vinculin nanoscale localization and a FRET biosensor to assay vinculin conformation, we found that upward repositioning within the FA during FA maturation facilitates vinculin activation and mechanical reinforcement of FAs. Inactive vinculin localizes to the lower integrin signalling layer in FAs by binding to phospho-paxillin. Talin binding activates vinculin and targets active vinculin higher in FAs where vinculin can engage retrograde actin flow. Thus, specific protein interactions are spatially segregated within FAs at the nanoscale to regulate vinculin activation and function.

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    04/07/15 | A multi-layered protein network stabilizes the Escherichia coli FtsZ-ring and modulates constriction dynamics.
    Buss J, Coltharp C, Shtengel G, Yang X, Hess H, Xiao J
    PLoS Genetics. 2015 Apr 07;11(4):e1005128. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005128

    The prokaryotic tubulin homolog, FtsZ, forms a ring-like structure (FtsZ-ring) at midcell. The FtsZ-ring establishes the division plane and enables the assembly of the macromolecular division machinery (divisome). Although many molecular components of the divisome have been identified and their interactions extensively characterized, the spatial organization of these proteins within the divisome is unclear. Consequently, the physical mechanisms that drive divisome assembly, maintenance, and constriction remain elusive. Here we applied single-molecule based superresolution imaging, combined with genetic and biophysical investigations, to reveal the spatial organization of cellular structures formed by four important divisome proteins in E. coli: FtsZ, ZapA, ZapB and MatP. We show that these interacting proteins are arranged into a multi-layered protein network extending from the cell membrane to the chromosome, each with unique structural and dynamic properties. Further, we find that this protein network stabilizes the FtsZ-ring, and unexpectedly, slows down cell constriction, suggesting a new, unrecognized role for this network in bacterial cell division. Our results provide new insight into the structure and function of the divisome, and highlight the importance of coordinated cell constriction and chromosome segregation.

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    03/01/15 | Fixation-resistant photoactivatable fluorescent proteins for CLEM.
    Paez-Segala MG, Sun MG, Shtengel G, Viswanathan S, Baird MA, Macklin JJ, Patel R, Allen JR, Howe ES, Piszczek G, Hess HF, Davidson MW, Wang Y, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2015 Mar;12(3):215-8. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3225

    Fluorescent proteins facilitate a variety of imaging paradigms in live and fixed samples. However, they lose their fluorescence after heavy fixation, hindering applications such as correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM). Here we report engineered variants of the photoconvertible Eos fluorescent protein that fluoresce and photoconvert normally in heavily fixed (0.5-1% OsO4), plastic resin-embedded samples, enabling correlative super-resolution fluorescence imaging and high-quality electron microscopy.

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    Hess LabFetter LabFlyEM
    02/16/15 | Ultrastructurally smooth thick partitioning and volume stitching for large-scale connectomics.
    Hayworth KJ, Xu CS, Lu Z, Knott GW, Fetter RD, Tapia JC, Lichtman JW, Hess HF
    Nature Methods. 2015 Feb 16;12(4):319-22. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3292

    Focused-ion-beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) has become an essential tool for studying neural tissue at resolutions below 10 nm × 10 nm × 10 nm, producing data sets optimized for automatic connectome tracing. We present a technical advance, ultrathick sectioning, which reliably subdivides embedded tissue samples into chunks (20 μm thick) optimally sized and mounted for efficient, parallel FIB-SEM imaging. These chunks are imaged separately and then 'volume stitched' back together, producing a final three-dimensional data set suitable for connectome tracing.

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