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104 Janelia Publications

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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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    08/01/19 | Inaccurate secondary structure predictions often indicate protein fold switching.
    Mishra S, Looger LL, Porter LL
    Protein Science. 2019 Aug;28(9):1487-93. doi: 10.1002/pro.3664

    Although most proteins conform to the classical one-structure/one-function paradigm, an increasing number of proteins with dual structures and functions have been discovered. In response to cellular stimuli, such proteins undergo structural changes sufficiently dramatic to remodel even their secondary structures and domain organization. This "fold-switching" capability fosters protein multi-functionality, enabling cells to establish tight control over various biochemical processes. Accurate predictions of fold-switching proteins could both suggest underlying mechanisms for uncharacterized biological processes and reveal potential drug targets. Recently, we developed a prediction method for fold-switching proteins using structure-based thermodynamic calculations and discrepancies between predicted and experimentally determined protein secondary structure. Here we seek to leverage the negative information found in these secondary structure prediction discrepancies. To do this, we quantified secondary structure prediction accuracies of 192 known fold-switching regions (FSRs) within solved protein structures found in the Protein Data Bank (PDB). We find that the secondary structure prediction accuracies for these FSRs vary widely. Inaccurate secondary structure predictions are strongly associated with fold-switching proteins compared to equally long segments of non-fold-switching proteins selected at random. These inaccurate predictions are enriched in helix-to-strand and strand-to-coil discrepancies. Finally, we find that most proteins with inaccurate secondary structure predictions are underrepresented in the PDB compared with their alternatively folded cognates, suggesting that unequal representation of fold-switching conformers within the PDB could be an important cause of inaccurate secondary structure predictions. These results demonstrate that inconsistent secondary structure predictions can serve as a useful preliminary marker of fold switching. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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    08/01/19 | Quantitative in vivo imaging of neuronal glucose concentrations with a genetically encoded fluorescence lifetime sensor.
    Díaz-García CM, Lahmann C, Martínez-François JR, Li B, Koveal D, Nathwani N, Rahman M, Keller JP, Marvin JS, Looger LL, Yellen G
    Journal of Neuroscience Research. 2019 Aug 01;97(8):946-60. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24433

    Glucose is an essential source of energy for the brain. Recently, the development of genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors has allowed real time visualization of glucose dynamics from individual neurons and astrocytes. A major difficulty for this approach, even for ratiometric sensors, is the lack of a practical method to convert such measurements into actual concentrations in ex vivo brain tissue or in vivo. Fluorescence lifetime imaging provides a strategy to overcome this. In a previous study, we reported the lifetime glucose sensor iGlucoSnFR-TS (then called SweetieTS) for monitoring changes in neuronal glucose levels in response to stimulation. This genetically encoded sensor was generated by combining the Thermus thermophilus glucose-binding protein with a circularly permuted variant of the monomeric fluorescent protein T-Sapphire. Here, we provide more details on iGlucoSnFR-TS design and characterization, as well as pH and temperature sensitivities. For accurate estimation of glucose concentrations, the sensor must be calibrated at the same temperature as the experiments. We find that when the extracellular glucose concentration is in the range 2-10 mM, the intracellular glucose concentration in hippocampal neurons from acute brain slices is ~20% of the nominal external glucose concentration (~0.4-2 mM). We also measured the cytosolic neuronal glucose concentration in vivo, finding a range of ~0.7-2.5 mM in cortical neurons from awake mice.

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    07/29/19 | Kilohertz frame-rate two-photon tomography.
    Kazemipour A, Novak O, Flickinger D, Marvin JS, Abdelfattah AS, King J, Borden P, Kim J, Al-Abdullatif S, Deal P, Miller E, Schreiter E, Druckmann S, Svoboda K, Looger L, Podgorski K
    Nature Methods. 2019 Jul 29;16(8):778-86. doi: 10.1101/357269

    Point-scanning two-photon microscopy enables high-resolution imaging within scattering specimens such as the mammalian brain, but sequential acquisition of voxels fundamentally limits imaging speed. We developed a two-photon imaging technique that scans lines of excitation across a focal plane at multiple angles and uses prior information to recover high-resolution images at over 1.4 billion voxels per second. Using a structural image as a prior for recording neural activity, we imaged visually-evoked and spontaneous glutamate release across hundreds of dendritic spines in mice at depths over 250 microns and frame-rates over 1 kHz. Dendritic glutamate transients in anaesthetized mice are synchronized within spatially-contiguous domains spanning tens of microns at frequencies ranging from 1-100 Hz. We demonstrate high-speed recording of acetylcholine and calcium sensors, 3D single-particle tracking, and imaging in densely-labeled cortex. Our method surpasses limits on the speed of raster-scanned imaging imposed by fluorescence lifetime.

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    07/15/19 | A genetically encoded fluorescent sensor for in vivo imaging of GABA.
    Marvin JS, Shimoda Y, Magloire V, Leite M, Kawashima T, Jensen TP, Kolb I, Knott EL, Novak O, Podgorski K, Leidenheimer NJ, Rusakov DA, Ahrens MB, Kullmann DM, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2019 Jul 15;16(8):763-770. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0471-2

    Current techniques for monitoring GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in vertebrates, cannot follow transients in intact neural circuits. To develop a GABA sensor, we applied the design principles used to create the fluorescent glutamate receptor iGluSnFR. We used a protein derived from a previously unsequenced Pseudomonas fluorescens strain and performed structure-guided mutagenesis and library screening to obtain intensity-based GABA sensing fluorescence reporter (iGABASnFR) variants. iGABASnFR is genetically encoded, detects GABA release evoked by electric stimulation of afferent fibers in acute brain slices and produces readily detectable fluorescence increases in vivo in mice and zebrafish. We applied iGABASnFR to track mitochondrial GABA content and its modulation by an anticonvulsant, swimming-evoked, GABA-mediated transmission in zebrafish cerebellum, GABA release events during interictal spikes and seizures in awake mice, and found that GABA-mediated tone decreases during isoflurane anesthesia.

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    06/27/19 | Glia accumulate evidence that actions are futile and suppress unsuccessful behavior.
    Mu Y, Bennett DV, Rubinov M, Narayan S, Yang C, Tanimoto M, Mensh BD, Looger LL, Ahrens MB
    Cell. 2019 Jun 27;178(1):27-43. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.05.050

    When a behavior repeatedly fails to achieve its goal, animals often give up and become passive, which can be strategic for preserving energy or regrouping between attempts. It is unknown how the brain identifies behavioral failures and mediates this behavioral-state switch. In larval zebrafish swimming in virtual reality, visual feedback can be withheld so that swim attempts fail to trigger expected visual flow. After tens of seconds of such motor futility, animals became passive for similar durations. Whole-brain calcium imaging revealed noradrenergic neurons that responded specifically to failed swim attempts and radial astrocytes whose calcium levels accumulated with increasing numbers of failed attempts. Using cell ablation and optogenetic or chemogenetic activation, we found that noradrenergic neurons progressively activated brainstem radial astrocytes, which then suppressed swimming. Thus, radial astrocytes perform a computation critical for behavior: they accumulate evidence that current actions are ineffective and consequently drive changes in behavioral states.

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    06/17/19 | High-performance calcium sensors for imaging activity in neuronal populations and microcompartments.
    Dana H, Sun Y, Mohar B, Hulse BK, Kerlin AM, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Tsang A, Wong A, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Chen Y, Konnerth A, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Schreiter ER, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    Nature Methods. 2019 Jun 17;16(7):649-57. doi: 10.1038/s41592-019-0435-6

    Calcium imaging with genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) is routinely used to measure neural activity in intact nervous systems. GECIs are frequently used in one of two different modes: to track activity in large populations of neuronal cell bodies, or to follow dynamics in subcellular compartments such as axons, dendrites and individual synaptic compartments. Despite major advances, calcium imaging is still limited by the biophysical properties of existing GECIs, including affinity, signal-to-noise ratio, rise and decay kinetics and dynamic range. Using structure-guided mutagenesis and neuron-based screening, we optimized the green fluorescent protein-based GECI GCaMP6 for different modes of in vivo imaging. The resulting jGCaMP7 sensors provide improved detection of individual spikes (jGCaMP7s,f), imaging in neurites and neuropil (jGCaMP7b), and may allow tracking larger populations of neurons using two-photon (jGCaMP7s,f) or wide-field (jGCaMP7c) imaging.

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    05/20/19 | Mechanistic characterization of RASGRP1 variants identifies an hnRNP K-regulated transcriptional enhancer contributing to SLE susceptibility.
    Molineros JE, Singh B, Terao C, Okada Y, Kaplan J, McDaniel B, Akizuki S, Sun C, Webb CF, Looger LL, Nath SK
    Frontiers in Immunology. 2019 May 20:. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01066

    Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with a strong genetic component. We recently identified a novel SLE susceptibility locus near RASGRP1, which governs the ERK/MAPK kinase cascade and B-/T-cell differentiation and development. However, precise causal RASGRP1functional variant(s) and their mechanisms of action in SLE pathogenesis remain undefined. Our goal was to fine-map this locus, prioritize genetic variants likely to be functional, experimentally validate their biochemical mechanisms, and determine the contribution of these SNPs to SLE risk. We performed a meta-analysis across six Asian and European cohorts (9,529 cases; 22,462 controls), followed by in silico bioinformatic and epigenetic analyses to prioritize potentially functional SNPs. We experimentally validated the functional significance and mechanism of action of three SNPs in cultured T-cells. Meta-analysis identified 18 genome-wide significant (p < 5 × 10−8) SNPs, mostly concentrated in two haplotype blocks, one intronic and the other intergenic. Epigenetic fine-mapping, allelic, eQTL, and imbalance analyses predicted three transcriptional regulatory regions with four SNPs (rs7170151, rs11631591-rs7173565, and rs9920715) prioritized for functional validation. Luciferase reporter assays indicated significant allele-specific enhancer activity for intronic rs7170151 and rs11631591-rs7173565 in T-lymphoid (Jurkat) cells, but not in HEK293 cells. Following up with EMSA, mass spectrometry, and ChIP-qPCR, we detected allele-dependent interactions between heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP-K) and rs11631591. Furthermore, inhibition of hnRNP-K in Jurkat and primary T-cells downregulated RASGRP1 and ERK/MAPK signaling. Comprehensive association, bioinformatics, and epigenetic analyses yielded putative functional variants of RASGRP1, which were experimentally validated. Notably, intronic variant (rs11631591) is located in a cell type-specific enhancer sequence, where its risk allele binds to the hnRNP-K protein and modulates RASGRP1 expression in Jurkat and primary T-cells. As risk allele dosage of rs11631591 correlates with increased RASGRP1 expression and ERK activity, we suggest that this SNP may underlie SLE risk at this locus.

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    04/25/19 | Amino acid signatures of HLA Class-I and II molecules are strongly associated with SLE susceptibility and autoantibody production in Eastern Asians.
    Molineros JE, Looger LL, Kim K, Okada Y, Terao C, Sun C, Zhou X, Raj P, Kochi Y, Suzuki A, Akizuki S, Nakabo S, Bang S, Lee H, Kang YM, Suh C, Chung WT, Park Y, Choe J, Shim S, Lee S, Zuo X, Yamamoto K, Li Q, Shen N, Porter LL, Harley JB, Chua KH, Zhang H, Wakeland EK, Tsao BP, Bae S, Nath SK
    PLoS Genetics. 2019 Apr 25;15(4):e1008092. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008092

    Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) is a key genetic factor conferring risk of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but precise independent localization of HLA effects is extremely challenging. As a result, the contribution of specific HLA alleles and amino-acid residues to the overall risk of SLE and to risk of specific autoantibodies are far from completely understood. Here, we dissected (a) overall SLE association signals across HLA, (b) HLA-peptide interaction, and (c) residue-autoantibody association. Classical alleles, SNPs, and amino-acid residues of eight HLA genes were imputed across 4,915 SLE cases and 13,513 controls from Eastern Asia. We performed association followed by conditional analysis across HLA, assessing both overall SLE risk and risk of autoantibody production. DR15 alleles HLA-DRB1*15:01 (P = 1.4x10-27, odds ratio (OR) = 1.57) and HLA-DQB1*06:02 (P = 7.4x10-23, OR = 1.55) formed the most significant haplotype (OR = 2.33). Conditioned protein-residue signals were stronger than allele signals and mapped predominantly to HLA-DRB1 residue 13 (P = 2.2x10-75) and its proxy position 11 (P = 1.1x10-67), followed by HLA-DRB1-37 (P = 4.5x10-24). After conditioning on HLA-DRB1, novel associations at HLA-A-70 (P = 1.4x10-8), HLA-DPB1-35 (P = 9.0x10-16), HLA-DQB1-37 (P = 2.7x10-14), and HLA-B-9 (P = 6.5x10-15) emerged. Together, these seven residues increased the proportion of explained heritability due to HLA to 2.6%. Risk residues for both overall disease and hallmark autoantibodies (i.e., nRNP: DRB1-11, P = 2.0x10-14; DRB1-13, P = 2.9x10-13; DRB1-30, P = 3.9x10-14) localized to the peptide-binding groove of HLA-DRB1. Enrichment for specific amino-acid characteristics in the peptide-binding groove correlated with overall SLE risk and with autoantibody presence. Risk residues were in primarily negatively charged side-chains, in contrast with rheumatoid arthritis. We identified novel SLE signals in HLA Class I loci (HLA-A, HLA-B), and localized primary Class II signals to five residues in HLA-DRB1, HLA-DPB1, and HLA-DQB1. These findings provide insights about the mechanisms by which the risk residues interact with each other to produce autoantibodies and are involved in SLE pathophysiology.

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    03/29/19 | Multiplex imaging relates quantal glutamate release to presynaptic Ca homeostasis at multiple synapses in situ.
    Jensen TP, Zheng K, Cole N, Marvin JS, Looger LL, Rusakov DA
    Nature Communications. 2019 03 29;10(1):1414. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09216-8

    Information processing by brain circuits depends on Ca-dependent, stochastic release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Whilst optical glutamate sensors have enabled detection of synaptic discharges, understanding presynaptic machinery requires simultaneous readout of glutamate release and nanomolar presynaptic Ca in situ. Here, we find that the fluorescence lifetime of the red-shifted Ca indicator Cal-590 is Ca-sensitive in the nanomolar range, and employ it in combination with green glutamate sensors to relate quantal neurotransmission to presynaptic Ca kinetics. Multiplexed imaging of individual and multiple synapses in identified axonal circuits reveals that glutamate release efficacy, but not its short-term plasticity, varies with time-dependent fluctuations in presynaptic resting Ca or spike-evoked Ca entry. Within individual presynaptic boutons, we find no nanoscopic co-localisation of evoked presynaptic Ca entry with the prevalent glutamate release site, suggesting loose coupling between the two. The approach enables a better understanding of release machinery at central synapses.

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