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5 Janelia Publications

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    12/18/18 | Mapping Neurotransmitter Identity in the Whole-Mount Brain Using Multiplex High-Throughput Fluorescence Hybridization.
    Meissner GW, Nern A, Singer RH, Wong AM, Malkesman O, Long X
    Genetics. 2018 Dec 18;211(2):473-82. doi: 10.1534/genetics.118.301749

    Identifying the neurotransmitters used by specific neurons is a critical step in understanding the function of neural circuits. However, methods for the consistent and efficient detection of neurotransmitter markers remain limited. Fluorescence hybridization (FISH) enables direct labeling of type-specific mRNA in neurons. Recent advances in FISH allow this technique to be carried out in intact tissue samples such as whole-mount brains. Here, we present a FISH platform for high-throughput detection of eight common neurotransmitter phenotypes in brains. We greatly increase FISH throughput by processing samples mounted on coverslips and optimizing fluorophore choice for each probe to facilitate multiplexing. As application examples, we demonstrate cases of neurotransmitter co-expression, reveal neurotransmitter phenotypes of specific cell types and explore the onset of neurotransmitter expression in the developing optic lobe. Beyond neurotransmitter markers, our protocols can in principle be used for large scale FISH detection of any mRNA in whole-mount fly brains.

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    12/04/18 | Allatostatin-C/AstC-R2 is a novel pathway to modulate the circadian activity pattern in Drosophila.
    Díaz MM, Schlichting M, Abruzzi KC, Long X, Rosbash M
    Current Biology : CB. 2018 Dec 04;29(1):13-22. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.11.005

    Seven neuropeptides are expressed within the Drosophila brain circadian network. Our previous mRNA profiling suggested that Allatostatin-C (AstC) is an eighth neuropeptide and specifically expressed in dorsal clock neurons (DN1s). Our results here show that AstC is, indeed, expressed in DN1s, where it oscillates. AstC is also expressed in two less well-characterized circadian neuronal clusters, the DN3s and lateral-posterior neurons (LPNs). Behavioral experiments indicate that clock-neuron-derived AstC is required to mediate evening locomotor activity under short (winter-like) and long (summer-like) photoperiods. The AstC-Receptor 2 (AstC-R2) is expressed in LNds, the clock neurons that drive evening locomotor activity, and AstC-R2 is required in these neurons to modulate the same short photoperiod evening phenotype. Ex vivo calcium imaging indicates that AstC directly inhibits a single LNd. The results suggest that a novel AstC/AstC-R2 signaling pathway, from dorsal circadian neurons to an LNd, regulates the evening phase in Drosophila.

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    06/20/18 | A transgenic mouse for imaging activity-dependent dynamics of endogenous Arc mRNA in live neurons.
    Das S, Moon HC, Singer RH, Park HY
    Science Advances. 2018 Jun;4(6):eaar3448. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3448

    Localized translation plays a crucial role in synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. However, it has not been possible to follow the dynamics of memory-associated mRNAs in living neurons in response to neuronal activity in real time. We have generated a novel mouse model where the endogenous Arc/Arg3.1 gene is tagged in its 3' untranslated region with stem-loops that bind a bacteriophage PP7 coat protein (PCP), allowing visualization of individual mRNAs in real time. The physiological response of the tagged gene to neuronal activity is identical to endogenous Arc and reports the true dynamics of Arc mRNA from transcription to degradation. The transcription dynamics of Arc in cultured hippocampal neurons revealed two novel results: (i) A robust transcriptional burst with prolonged ON state occurs after stimulation, and (ii) transcription cycles continue even after initial stimulation is removed. The correlation of stimulation with Arc transcription and mRNA transport in individual neurons revealed that stimulus-induced Ca activity was necessary but not sufficient for triggering Arc transcription and that blocking neuronal activity did not affect the dendritic transport of newly synthesized Arc mRNAs. This mouse will provide an important reagent to investigate how individual neurons transduce activity into spatiotemporal regulation of gene expression at the synapse.

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    05/20/18 | Imaging mRNA in vivo, from birth to death.
    Tutucci E, Livingston NM, Singer RH, Wu B
    Annual Review of Biophysics. 2018 May 20;47:85-106. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biophys-070317-033037

    RNA is the fundamental information transfer system in the cell. The ability to follow single messenger RNAs (mRNAs) from transcription to degradation with fluorescent probes gives quantitative information about how the information is transferred from DNA to proteins. This review focuses on the latest technological developments in the field of single-mRNA detection and their usage to study gene expression in both fixed and live cells. By describing the application of these imaging tools, we follow the journey of mRNA from transcription to decay in single cells, with single-molecule resolution. We review current theoretical models for describing transcription and translation that were generated by single-molecule and single-cell studies. These methods provide a basis to study how single-molecule interactions generate phenotypes, fundamentally changing our understating of gene expression regulation.

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    04/19/18 | Transvection Goes Live-Visualizing Enhancer-Promoter Communication between Chromosomes.
    Tsai A, Singer RH, Crocker J
    Molecular Cell. 2018 Apr 19;70(2):195-196. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2018.04.004

    Lim et al. (2018) use live imaging in Drosophila embryos to show that enhancers can drive transcription from promoters on another chromosome when they are in close proximity. In addition, they show that multiple promoters can access the same enhancer without competition, potentially sharing a pool of factors in a transcriptional "hub."

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