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50 Janelia Publications

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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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    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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    09/23/19 | Single-cell reconstruction of emerging population activity in an entire developing circuit.
    Wan Y, Wei Z, Looger LL, Koyama M, Druckmann S, Keller PJ
    Cell. 2019 Sep 23;179(2):. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.08.039

    Animal survival requires a functioning nervous system to develop during embryogenesis. Newborn neurons must assemble into circuits producing activity patterns capable of instructing behaviors. Elucidating how this process is coordinated requires new methods that follow maturation and activity of all cells across a developing circuit. We present an imaging method for comprehensively tracking neuron lineages, movements, molecular identities, and activity in the entire developing zebrafish spinal cord, from neurogenesis until the emergence of patterned activity instructing the earliest spontaneous motor behavior. We found that motoneurons are active first and form local patterned ensembles with neighboring neurons. These ensembles merge, synchronize globally after reaching a threshold size, and finally recruit commissural interneurons to orchestrate the left-right alternating patterns important for locomotion in vertebrates. Individual neurons undergo functional maturation stereotypically based on their birth time and anatomical origin. Our study provides a general strategy for reconstructing how functioning circuits emerge during embryogenesis.

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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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    03/01/19 | Metabolic regulation of developmental cell cycles and zygotic transcription.
    Djabrayan NJ, Smits CM, Krajnc M, Stern T, Yamada S, Lemon WC, Keller PJ, Rushlow CA, Shvartsman SY
    Current Biology. 2019 Mar 01;29(7):1193-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.02.028

    The thirteen nuclear cleavages that give rise to the Drosophila blastoderm are some of the fastest known cell cycles. Surprisingly, the fertilized egg is provided with at most one-third of the dNTPs needed to complete the thirteen rounds of DNA replication. The rest must be synthesized by the embryo, concurrent with cleavage divisions. What is the reason for the limited supply of DNA building blocks? We propose that frugal control of dNTP synthesis contributes to the well-characterized deceleration of the cleavage cycles and is needed for robust accumulation of zygotic gene products. In support of this model, we demonstrate that when the levels of dNTPs are abnormally high, nuclear cleavages fail to sufficiently decelerate, the levels of zygotic transcription are dramatically reduced, and the embryo catastrophically fails early in gastrulation. Our work reveals a direct connection between metabolism, the cell cycle, and zygotic transcription.

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    03/08/19 | In vivo glucose imaging in multiple model organisms with an engineered single-wavelength sensor.
    Keller JP, Marvin JS, Lacin H, Lemon WC, Shea J, Kim S, Lee RT, Koyama M, Keller PJ, Looger LL
    bioRxiv. 2019 Mar 8:. doi: 10.1101/571422

    Glucose is arguably the most important molecule in metabolism, and its mismanagement underlies diseases of vast societal import, most notably diabetes. Although glucose-related metabolism has been the subject of intense study for over a century, tools to track glucose in living organisms with high spatio-temporal resolution are lacking. We describe the engineering of a family of genetically encoded glucose sensors with high signal-to-noise ratio, fast kinetics and affinities varying over four orders of magnitude (1 µM to 10 mM). The sensors allow rigorous mechanistic characterization of glucose transporters expressed in cultured cells with high spatial and temporal resolution. Imaging of neuron/glia co-cultures revealed ∼3-fold higher glucose changes in astrocytes versus neurons. In larval Drosophila central nervous system explants, imaging of intracellular neuronal glucose suggested a novel rostro-caudal transport pathway in the ventral nerve cord neuropil, with paradoxically slower uptake into the peripheral cell bodies and brain lobes. In living zebrafish, expected glucose-related physiological sequelae of insulin and epinephrine treatments were directly visualized in real time. Additionally, spontaneous muscle twitches induced glucose uptake in muscle, and sensory- and pharmacological perturbations gave rise to large but enigmatic changes in the brain. These sensors will enable myriad experiments, most notably rapid, high-resolution imaging of glucose influx, efflux, and metabolism in behaving animals.

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    11/30/18 | Brain-wide circuit interrogation at the cellular level guided by online analysis of neuronal function.
    Vladimirov N, Wang C, Höckendorf B, Pujala A, Tanimoto M, Mu Y, Yang C, Wittenbach J, Freeman J, Preibisch S, Koyama M, Keller PJ, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2018 Nov 30;15(12):1117-1125. doi: 10.1038/s41592-018-0221-x

    Whole-brain imaging allows for comprehensive functional mapping of distributed neural pathways, but neuronal perturbation experiments are usually limited to targeting predefined regions or genetically identifiable cell types. To complement whole-brain measures of activity with brain-wide manipulations for testing causal interactions, we introduce a system that uses measuredactivity patterns to guide optical perturbations of any subset of neurons in the same fictively behaving larval zebrafish. First, a light-sheet microscope collects whole-brain data that are rapidly analyzed by a distributed computing system to generate functional brain maps. On the basis of these maps, the experimenter can then optically ablate neurons and image activity changes across the brain. We applied this method to characterize contributions of behaviorally tuned populations to the optomotor response. We extended the system to optogenetically stimulate arbitrary subsets of neurons during whole-brain imaging. These open-source methods enable delineating the contributions of neurons to brain-wide circuit dynamics and behavior in individual animals.

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    11/06/18 | Tools for rapid high-resolution behavioral phenotyping of automatically isolated Drosophila.
    Williamson WR, Peek MY, Breads P, Coop B, Card GM
    Cell Reports. 2018 Nov 06;25(6):1636-1649.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.10.048

    Sparse manipulation of neuron excitability during free behavior is critical for identifying neural substrates of behavior. Genetic tools for precise neuronal manipulation exist in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, but behavioral tools are still lacking to identify potentially subtle phenotypes only detectible using high-throughput and high spatiotemporal resolution. We developed three assay components that can be used modularly to study natural and optogenetically induced behaviors. FlyGate automatically releases flies one at a time into an assay. FlyDetect tracks flies in real time, is robust to severe occlusions, and can be used to track appendages, such as the head. GlobeDisplay is a spherical projection system covering the fly's visual receptive field with a single projector. We demonstrate the utility of these components in an integrated system, FlyPEZ, by comprehensively modeling the input-output function for directional looming-evoked escape takeoffs and describing a millisecond-timescale phenotype from genetic silencing of a single visual projection neuron type.

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    10/26/18 | A practical guide to adaptive light-sheet microscopy.
    Royer LA, Lemon WC, Chhetri RK, Keller PJ
    Nature Protocols. 2018 Oct 26;13(11):2462–2500. doi: 10.1038/s41596-018-0043-4

    We describe the implementation and use of an adaptive imaging framework for optimizing spatial resolution and signal strength in a light-sheet microscope. The framework, termed AutoPilot, comprises hardware and software modules for automatically measuring and compensating for mismatches between light-sheet and detection focal planes in living specimens. Our protocol enables researchers to introduce adaptive imaging capabilities in an existing light-sheet microscope or use our SiMView microscope blueprint to set up a new adaptive multiview light-sheet microscope. The protocol describes (i) the mechano-optical implementation of the adaptive imaging hardware, including technical drawings for all custom microscope components; (ii) the algorithms and software library for automated adaptive imaging, including the pseudocode and annotated source code for all software modules; and (iii) the execution of adaptive imaging experiments, as well as the configuration and practical use of the AutoPilot framework. Setup of the adaptive imaging hardware and software takes 1-2 weeks each. Previous experience with light-sheet microscopy and some familiarity with software engineering and building of optical instruments are recommended. Successful implementation of the protocol recovers near diffraction-limited performance in many parts of typical multicellular organisms studied with light-sheet microscopy, such as fruit fly and zebrafish embryos, for which resolution and signal strength are improved two- to fivefold.

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    10/18/18 | In toto imaging and reconstruction of post-implantation mouse development at the single-cell level.
    McDole K, Guignard L, Amat F, Berger A, Malandain G, Royer LA, Turaga SC, Branson K, Keller PJ
    Cell. 2018 Oct 10;175(3):859-876. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.09.031

    The mouse embryo has long been central to the study of mammalian development; however, elucidating the cell behaviors governing gastrulation and the formation of tissues and organs remains a fundamental challenge. A major obstacle is the lack of live imaging and image analysis technologies capable of systematically following cellular dynamics across the developing embryo. We developed a light-sheet microscope that adapts itself to the dramatic changes in size, shape, and optical properties of the post-implantation mouse embryo and captures its development from gastrulation to early organogenesis at the cellular level. We furthermore developed a computational framework for reconstructing long-term cell tracks, cell divisions, dynamic fate maps, and maps of tissue morphogenesis across the entire embryo. By jointly analyzing cellular dynamics in multiple embryos registered in space and time, we built a dynamic atlas of post-implantation mouse development that, together with our microscopy and computational methods, is provided as a resource.

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