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19 Janelia Publications

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    Simpson LabRubin Lab
    02/19/14 | A systematic nomenclature for the insect brain.
    Ito K, Shinomiya K, Ito M, Armstrong JD, Boyan G, Hartenstein V, Harzsch S, Heisenberg M, Homberg U, Jenett A, Keshishian H, Restifo LL, Rössler W, Simpson JH, Strausfeld NJ, Strauss R, Vosshall LB
    Neuron. 2014 Feb 19;81:755-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.12.017

    Despite the importance of the insect nervous system for functional and developmental neuroscience, descriptions of insect brains have suffered from a lack of uniform nomenclature. Ambiguous definitions of brain regions and fiber bundles have contributed to the variation of names used to describe the same structure. The lack of clearly determined neuropil boundaries has made it difficult to document precise locations of neuronal projections for connectomics study. To address such issues, a consortium of neurobiologists studying arthropod brains, the Insect Brain Name Working Group, has established the present hierarchical nomenclature system, using the brain of Drosophila melanogaster as the reference framework, while taking the brains of other taxa into careful consideration for maximum consistency and expandability. The following summarizes the consortium’s nomenclature system and highlights examples of existing ambiguities and remedies for them. This nomenclature is intended to serve as a standard of reference for the study of the brain of Drosophila and other insects.

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    10/25/12 | A GAL4-driver line resource for Drosophila neurobiology.
    Jenett A, Rubin GM, Ngo TB, Shepherd D, Murphy C, Dionne H, Pfeiffer BD, Cavallaro A, Hall D, Jeter J, Iyer N, Fetter D, Hausenfluck JH, Peng H, Trautman ET, Svirskas RR, Myers EW, Iwinski ZR, Aso Y, Depasquale GM, Enos A, Hulamm P, Lam SC, Li H, Laverty TR, Long F, Qu L, Murphy SD, Rokicki K, Safford T, Shaw K, Simpson JH, Sowell A, Tae S, Yu Y, Zugates CT
    Cell Reports. 2012 Oct 25;2(4):991-1001. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.011

    We established a collection of 7,000 transgenic lines of Drosophila melanogaster. Expression of GAL4 in each line is controlled by a different, defined fragment of genomic DNA that serves as a transcriptional enhancer. We used confocal microscopy of dissected nervous systems to determine the expression patterns driven by each fragment in the adult brain and ventral nerve cord. We present image data on 6,650 lines. Using both manual and machine-assisted annotation, we describe the expression patterns in the most useful lines. We illustrate the utility of these data for identifying novel neuronal cell types, revealing brain asymmetry, and describing the nature and extent of neuronal shape stereotypy. The GAL4 lines allow expression of exogenous genes in distinct, small subsets of the adult nervous system. The set of DNA fragments, each driving a documented expression pattern, will facilitate the generation of additional constructs for manipulating neuronal function. synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For the overall strategy and methods used to produce the GAL4 lines:
    Pfeiffer, B.D., Jenett, A., Hammonds, A.S., Ngo, T.T., Misra, S., Murphy, C., Scully, A., Carlson, J.W., Wan, K.H., Laverty, T.R., Mungall, C., Svirskas, R., Kadonaga, J.T., Doe, C.Q., Eisen, M.B., Celniker, S.E., Rubin, G.M. (2008). Tools for neuroanatomy and neurogenetics in Drosophila. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 9715-9720. synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For data on expression in the embryo:
    Manning, L., Purice, M.D., Roberts, J., Pollard, J.L., Bennett, A.L., Kroll, J.R., Dyukareva, A.V., Doan, P.N., Lupton, J.R., Strader, M.E., Tanner, S., Bauer, D., Wilbur, A., Tran, K.D., Laverty, T.R., Pearson, J.C., Crews, S.T., Rubin, G.M., and Doe, C.Q. (2012) Annotated embryonic CNS expression patterns of 5000 GMR GAL4 lines: a resource for manipulating gene expression and analyzing cis-regulatory motifs. Cell Reports (2012) Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.009 synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For data on expression in imaginal discs:
    Jory, A., Estella, C., Giorgianni, M.W., Slattery, M., Laverty, T.R., Rubin, G.M., and Mann, R.S. (2012) A survey of 6300 genomic fragments for cis-regulatory activity in the imaginal discs of Drosophila melanogaster. Cell Reports (2012) Doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.09.010 synapse was substantially elevated, at the endocytic zone there was no enhanced polymerization activity. We conclude that actin subserves spatially diverse, independently regulated processes throughout spines. Perisynaptic actin forms a uniquely dynamic structure well suited for direct, active regulation of the synapse.

    For data on expression in the larval nervous system:
    Li, H.-H., Kroll, J.R., Lennox, S., Ogundeyi, O., Jeter, J., Depasquale, G., and Truman, J.W. (2013) A GAL4 driver resource for developmental and behavioral studies on the larval CNS of Drosophila. Cell Reports (submitted).

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    Simpson Lab
    10/20/11 | Genetic manipulation of genes and cells in the nervous system of the fruit fly.
    Venken KJ, Simpson JH, Bellen HJ
    Neuron. 2011 Oct 20;72(2):202-30. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.09.021

    Research in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has led to insights in neural development, axon guidance, ion channel function, synaptic transmission, learning and memory, diurnal rhythmicity, and neural disease that have had broad implications for neuroscience. Drosophila is currently the eukaryotic model organism that permits the most sophisticated in vivo manipulations to address the function of neurons and neuronally expressed genes. Here, we summarize many of the techniques that help assess the role of specific neurons by labeling, removing, or altering their activity. We also survey genetic manipulations to identify and characterize neural genes by mutation, overexpression, and protein labeling. Here, we attempt to acquaint the reader with available options and contexts to apply these methods.

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    Simpson LabRubin Lab
    06/01/11 | BrainAligner: 3D registration atlases of Drosophila brains.
    Peng H, Chung P, Long F, Qu L, Jenett A, Seeds AM, Myers EW, Simpson JH
    Nature Methods. 2011 Jun;8:493-500. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1602

    Analyzing Drosophila melanogaster neural expression patterns in thousands of three-dimensional image stacks of individual brains requires registering them into a canonical framework based on a fiducial reference of neuropil morphology. Given a target brain labeled with predefined landmarks, the BrainAligner program automatically finds the corresponding landmarks in a subject brain and maps it to the coordinate system of the target brain via a deformable warp. Using a neuropil marker (the antibody nc82) as a reference of the brain morphology and a target brain that is itself a statistical average of data for 295 brains, we achieved a registration accuracy of 2 μm on average, permitting assessment of stereotypy, potential connectivity and functional mapping of the adult fruit fly brain. We used BrainAligner to generate an image pattern atlas of 2954 registered brains containing 470 different expression patterns that cover all the major compartments of the fly brain.

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    Looger LabSimpson Lab
    03/01/11 | Drosophila brainbow: a recombinase-based fluorescence labeling technique to subdivide neural expression patterns.
    Hampel S, Chung P, McKellar CE, Hall D, Looger LL, Simpson JH
    Nature Methods. 2011 Mar;8:253-9. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.1566

    We developed a multicolor neuron labeling technique in Drosophila melanogaster that combines the power to specifically target different neural populations with the label diversity provided by stochastic color choice. This adaptation of vertebrate Brainbow uses recombination to select one of three epitope-tagged proteins detectable by immunofluorescence. Two copies of this construct yield six bright, separable colors. We used Drosophila Brainbow to study the innervation patterns of multiple antennal lobe projection neuron lineages in the same preparation and to observe the relative trajectories of individual aminergic neurons. Nerve bundles, and even individual neurites hundreds of micrometers long, can be followed with definitive color labeling. We traced motor neurons in the subesophageal ganglion and correlated them to neuromuscular junctions to identify their specific proboscis muscle targets. The ability to independently visualize multiple lineage or neuron projections in the same preparation greatly advances the goal of mapping how neurons connect into circuits.

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    Simpson Lab
    05/01/10 | Mutation of the Drosophila vesicular GABA transporter disrupts visual figure detection.
    Fei H, Chow DM, Chen A, Romero-Calderón R, Ong WS, Ackerson LC, Maidment NT, Simpson JH, Frye MA, Krantz DE
    The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2010 May;213(Pt 10):1717-30. doi: 10.1242/jeb.036053

    The role of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) release and inhibitory neurotransmission in regulating most behaviors remains unclear. The vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT) is required for the storage of GABA in synaptic vesicles and provides a potentially useful probe for inhibitory circuits. However, specific pharmacologic agents for VGAT are not available, and VGAT knockout mice are embryonically lethal, thus precluding behavioral studies. We have identified the Drosophila ortholog of the vesicular GABA transporter gene (which we refer to as dVGAT), immunocytologically mapped dVGAT protein expression in the larva and adult and characterized a dVGAT(minos) mutant allele. dVGAT is embryonically lethal and we do not detect residual dVGAT expression, suggesting that it is either a strong hypomorph or a null. To investigate the function of VGAT and GABA signaling in adult visual flight behavior, we have selectively rescued the dVGAT mutant during development. We show that reduced GABA release does not compromise the active optomotor control of wide-field pattern motion. Conversely, reduced dVGAT expression disrupts normal object tracking and figure-ground discrimination. These results demonstrate that visual behaviors are segregated by the level of GABA signaling in flies, and more generally establish dVGAT as a model to study the contribution of GABA release to other complex behaviors.

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    Simpson Lab
    04/01/10 | VAA3D enables real-time 3D visualization and quantitative analysis of large-scale biological image data sets.
    Peng H, Ruan Z, Long F, Simpson JH, Myers EW
    Nature Biotechnology. 2010 Apr;28:348-53. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1612

    The V3D system provides three-dimensional (3D) visualization of gigabyte-sized microscopy image stacks in real time on current laptops and desktops. V3D streamlines the online analysis, measurement and proofreading of complicated image patterns by combining ergonomic functions for selecting a location in an image directly in 3D space and for displaying biological measurements, such as from fluorescent probes, using the overlaid surface objects. V3D runs on all major computer platforms and can be enhanced by software plug-ins to address specific biological problems. To demonstrate this extensibility, we built a V3D-based application, V3D-Neuron, to reconstruct complex 3D neuronal structures from high-resolution brain images. V3D-Neuron can precisely digitize the morphology of a single neuron in a fruitfly brain in minutes, with about a 17-fold improvement in reliability and tenfold savings in time compared with other neuron reconstruction tools. Using V3D-Neuron, we demonstrate the feasibility of building a 3D digital atlas of neurite tracts in the fruitfly brain.

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    Simpson Lab
    02/01/10 | Segmentation of center brains and optic lobes in 3D confocal images of adult fruit fly brains.
    Lam SC, Ruan Z, Zhao T, Long F, Jenett A, Simpson J, Myers EW, Peng H
    Methods. 2010 Feb;50(2):63-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2009.08.004

    Automatic alignment (registration) of 3D images of adult fruit fly brains is often influenced by the significant displacement of the relative locations of the two optic lobes (OLs) and the center brain (CB). In one of our ongoing efforts to produce a better image alignment pipeline of adult fruit fly brains, we consider separating CB and OLs and align them independently. This paper reports our automatic method to segregate CB and OLs, in particular under conditions where the signal to noise ratio (SNR) is low, the variation of the image intensity is big, and the relative displacement of OLs and CB is substantial. We design an algorithm to find a minimum-cost 3D surface in a 3D image stack to best separate an OL (of one side, either left or right) from CB. This surface is defined as an aggregation of the respective minimum-cost curves detected in each individual 2D image slice. Each curve is defined by a list of control points that best segregate OL and CB. To obtain the locations of these control points, we derive an energy function that includes an image energy term defined by local pixel intensities and two internal energy terms that constrain the curve’s smoothness and length. Gradient descent method is used to optimize this energy function. To improve both the speed and robustness of the method, for each stack, the locations of optimized control points in a slice are taken as the initialization prior for the next slice. We have tested this approach on simulated and real 3D fly brain image stacks and demonstrated that this method can reasonably segregate OLs from CBs despite the aforementioned difficulties.

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    Simpson Lab
    01/01/09 | Mapping and manipulating neural circuits in the fly brain.
    Simpson JH
    Advances in Genetics. 2009;65:79-143. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2660(09)65003-3

    Drosophila is a marvelous system to study the underlying principles that govern how neural circuits govern behaviors. The scale of the fly brain (approximately 100,000 neurons) and the complexity of the behaviors the fly can perform make it a tractable experimental model organism. In addition, 100 years and hundreds of labs have contributed to an extensive array of tools and techniques that can be used to dissect the function and organization of the fly nervous system. This review discusses both the conceptual challenges and the specific tools for a neurogenetic approach to circuit mapping in Drosophila.

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