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22 Janelia Publications

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    03/28/18 | Dedicated photoreceptor pathways in Drosophila larvae mediate navigation by processing either spatial or temporal cues.
    Humberg T, Bruegger P, Afonso B, Zlatic M, Truman JW, Gershow M, Samuel A, Sprecher SG
    Nature Communications. 2018 Mar 28;9(1):1260. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03520-5

    To integrate changing environmental cues with high spatial and temporal resolution is critical for animals to orient themselves. Drosophila larvae show an effective motor program to navigate away from light sources. How the larval visual circuit processes light stimuli to control navigational decision remains unknown. The larval visual system is composed of two sensory input channels, Rhodopsin5 (Rh5) and Rhodopsin6 (Rh6) expressing photoreceptors (PRs). We here characterize how spatial and temporal information are used to control navigation. Rh6-PRs are required to perceive temporal changes of light intensity during head casts, while Rh5-PRs are required to control behaviors that allow navigation in response to spatial cues. We characterize how distinct behaviors are modulated and identify parallel acting and converging features of the visual circuit. Functional features of the larval visual circuit highlight the principle of how early in a sensory circuit distinct behaviors may be computed by partly overlapping sensory pathways.

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    03/16/18 | Functional architecture of reward learning in mushroom body extrinsic neurons of larval Drosophila.
    Saumweber T, Rohwedder A, Schleyer M, Eichler K, Chen Y, Aso Y, Cardona A, Eschbach C, Kobler O, Voigt A, Durairaja A, Mancini N, Zlatic M, Truman JW, Thum AS, Gerber B
    Nature Communications. 2018 Mar 16;9(1):1104. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03130-1

    The brain adaptively integrates present sensory input, past experience, and options for future action. The insect mushroom body exemplifies how a central brain structure brings about such integration. Here we use a combination of systematic single-cell labeling, connectomics, transgenic silencing, and activation experiments to study the mushroom body at single-cell resolution, focusing on the behavioral architecture of its input and output neurons (MBINs and MBONs), and of the mushroom body intrinsic APL neuron. Our results reveal the identity and morphology of almost all of these 44 neurons in stage 3 Drosophila larvae. Upon an initial screen, functional analyses focusing on the mushroom body medial lobe uncover sparse and specific functions of its dopaminergic MBINs, its MBONs, and of the GABAergic APL neuron across three behavioral tasks, namely odor preference, taste preference, and associative learning between odor and taste. Our results thus provide a cellular-resolution study case of how brains organize behavior.

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    03/12/18 | Nociceptive interneurons control modular motor pathways to promote escape behavior in.
    Burgos A, Honjo K, Ohyama T, Qian CS, Shin GJ, Gohl DM, Silies M, Tracey WD, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Grueber WB
    eLife. 2018 Mar 12;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26016

    Rapid and efficient escape behaviors in response to noxious sensory stimuli are essential for protection and survival. Yet, how noxious stimuli are transformed to coordinated escape behaviors remains poorly understood. Inlarvae, noxious stimuli trigger sequential body bending and corkscrew-like rolling behavior. We identified a population of interneurons in the nerve cord of, termed Down-and-Back (DnB) neurons, that are activated by noxious heat, promote nociceptive behavior, and are required for robust escape responses to noxious stimuli. Electron microscopic circuit reconstruction shows that DnBs are targets of nociceptive and mechanosensory neurons, are directly presynaptic to pre-motor circuits, and link indirectly to Goro rolling command-like neurons. DnB activation promotes activity in Goro neurons, and coincident inactivation of Goro neurons prevents the rolling sequence but leaves intact body bending motor responses. Thus, activity from nociceptors to DnB interneurons coordinates modular elements of nociceptive escape behavior.

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    01/08/18 | Neural substrates of navigational decision-making in Drosophila larva anemotaxis.
    Jovanic T, Truman JW, Gershow M, Zlatic M
    bioRxiv. 2018 Jan 08:244608. doi: 10.1101/244608

    Small animals navigate in the environment as a function of varying sensory information in order to reach more favorable environmental conditions. To achieve this Drosophila larvae alternate periods of runs and turns in gradients of light, temperature, odors and CO2. While the sensory neurons that mediate the navigation behaviors in the different sensory gradients have been described, where and how are these navigational strategies are implemented in the central nervous system and controlled by neuronal circuit elements is not well known. Here we characterize for the first time the navigational strategies of Drosophila larvae in gradients of air-current speeds using high-throughput behavioral assays and quantitative behavioral analysis. We find that larvae extend runs when facing favorable conditions and increase turn rate when facing unfavorable direction, a strategy they use in other sensory modalities as well. By silencing the activity of individual neurons and very sparse expression patterns (2 or 3 neuron types), we further identify the sensory neurons and circuit elements in the ventral nerve cord and brain of the larva required for navigational decisions during anemotaxis. The phenotypes of these central neurons are consistent with a mechanism where the increase of the turning rate in unfavorable conditions and decrease in turning rate in favorable conditions are independently controlled.

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    12/20/17 | Divergent connectivity of homologous command-like neurons mediates segment-specific touch responses in Drosophila.
    Takagi S, Cocanougher BT, Niki S, Miyamoto D, Kohsaka H, Kazama H, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Nose A
    Neuron. 2017 Dec 20;96(6):1373-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.10.030

    Animals adaptively respond to a tactile stimulus by choosing an ethologically relevant behavior depending on the location of the stimuli. Here, we investigate how somatosensory inputs on different body segments are linked to distinct motor outputs in Drosophila larvae. Larvae escape by backward locomotion when touched on the head, while they crawl forward when touched on the tail. We identify a class of segmentally repeated second-order somatosensory interneurons, that we named Wave, whose activation in anterior and posterior segments elicit backward and forward locomotion, respectively. Anterior and posterior Wave neurons extend their dendrites in opposite directions to receive somatosensory inputs from the head and tail, respectively. Downstream of anterior Wave neurons, we identify premotor circuits including the neuron A03a5, which together with Wave, is necessary for the backward locomotion touch response. Thus, Wave neurons match their receptive field to appropriate motor programs by participating in different circuits in different segments.

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    08/09/17 | The complete connectome of a learning and memory centre in an insect brain.
    Eichler K, Li F, Litwin-Kumar A, Park Y, Andrade I, Schneider-Mizell CM, Saumweber T, Huser A, Eschbach C, Gerber B, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Priebe CE, Abbott LF, Thum AS, Zlatic M, Cardona A
    Nature. 2017 Aug 09;548(7666):175-182. doi: 10.1038/nature23455

    Associating stimuli with positive or negative reinforcement is essential for survival, but a complete wiring diagram of a higher-order circuit supporting associative memory has not been previously available. Here we reconstruct one such circuit at synaptic resolution, the Drosophila larval mushroom body. We find that most Kenyon cells integrate random combinations of inputs but that a subset receives stereotyped inputs from single projection neurons. This organization maximizes performance of a model output neuron on a stimulus discrimination task. We also report a novel canonical circuit in each mushroom body compartment with previously unidentified connections: reciprocal Kenyon cell to modulatory neuron connections, modulatory neuron to output neuron connections, and a surprisingly high number of recurrent connections between Kenyon cells. Stereotyped connections found between output neurons could enhance the selection of learned behaviours. The complete circuit map of the mushroom body should guide future functional studies of this learning and memory centre.

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    08/08/17 | Organization of the drosophila larval visual circuit.
    Larderet I, Fritsch PM, Gendre N, Neagu-Maier GL, Fetter RD, Schneider-Mizell CM, Truman JW, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Sprecher SG
    eLife. 2017 Aug 8:e28387. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28387

    Visual systems transduce, process and transmit light-dependent environmental cues. Computation of visual features depends on photoreceptor neuron types (PR) present, organization of the eye and wiring of the underlying neural circuit. Here, we describe the circuit architecture of the visual system of Drosophila larvae by mapping the synaptic wiring diagram and neurotransmitters. By contacting different targets, the two larval PR-subtypes create two converging pathways potentially underlying the computation of ambient light intensity and temporal light changes already within this first visual processing center. Locally processed visual information then signals via dedicated projection interneurons to higher brain areas including the lateral horn and mushroom body. The stratified structure of the larval optic neuropil (LON) suggests common organizational principles with the adult fly and vertebrate visual systems. The complete synaptic wiring diagram of the LON paves the way to understanding how circuits with reduced numerical complexity control wide ranges of behaviors.

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    07/01/17 | The Ol1mpiad: concordance of behavioural faculties of stage 1 and stage 3 Drosophila larvae.
    Almeida-Carvalho MJ, Berh D, Braun A, Chen Y, Eichler K, Eschbach C, Fritsch PM, Gerber B, Hoyer N, Jiang X, Kleber J, Klämbt C, König C, Louis M, Michels B, Miroschnikow A, Mirth C, Miura D, Niewalda T, Otto N, Paisios E, Pankratz MJ, Petersen M, Ramsperger N, Randel N, Risse B, Saumweber T, Schlegel P, Schleyer M, Soba P, Sprecher SG, Tanimura T, Thum AS, Toshima N, Truman JW, Yarali A, Zlatic M
    The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2017 Jul 01;220(Pt 13):2452-2475. doi: 10.1242/jeb.156646

    Mapping brain function to brain structure is a fundamental task for neuroscience. For such an endeavour, the Drosophila larva is simple enough to be tractable, yet complex enough to be interesting. It features about 10,000 neurons and is capable of various taxes, kineses and Pavlovian conditioning. All its neurons are currently being mapped into a light-microscopical atlas, and Gal4 strains are being generated to experimentally access neurons one at a time. In addition, an electron microscopic reconstruction of its nervous system seems within reach. Notably, this electron microscope-based connectome is being drafted for a stage 1 larva - because stage 1 larvae are much smaller than stage 3 larvae. However, most behaviour analyses have been performed for stage 3 larvae because their larger size makes them easier to handle and observe. It is therefore warranted to either redo the electron microscopic reconstruction for a stage 3 larva or to survey the behavioural faculties of stage 1 larvae. We provide the latter. In a community-based approach we called the Ol1mpiad, we probed stage 1 Drosophila larvae for free locomotion, feeding, responsiveness to substrate vibration, gentle and nociceptive touch, burrowing, olfactory preference and thermotaxis, light avoidance, gustatory choice of various tastants plus odour-taste associative learning, as well as light/dark-electric shock associative learning. Quantitatively, stage 1 larvae show lower scores in most tasks, arguably because of their smaller size and lower speed. Qualitatively, however, stage 1 larvae perform strikingly similar to stage 3 larvae in almost all cases. These results bolster confidence in mapping brain structure and behaviour across developmental stages.

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    05/09/17 | Semiparametric spectral modeling of the Drosophila connectome.
    Priebe CE, Park Y, Tang M, Athreya A, Lyzinski V, Vogelstein JT, Qin Y, Cocanougher B, Eichler K, Zlatic M, Cardona A
    arXiv. 2017 May 9:1705.03297

    We present semiparametric spectral modeling of the complete larval Drosophila mushroom body connectome. Motivated by a thorough exploratory data analysis of the network via Gaussian mixture modeling (GMM) in the adjacency spectral embedding (ASE) representation space, we introduce the latent structure model (LSM) for network modeling and inference. LSM is a generalization of the stochastic block model (SBM) and a special case of the random dot product graph (RDPG) latent position model, and is amenable to semiparametric GMM in the ASE representation space. The resulting connectome code derived via semiparametric GMM composed with ASE captures latent connectome structure and elucidates biologically relevant neuronal properties.

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    04/19/17 | Pavlovian conditioning of larval Drosophila: an illustrated, multilingual, hands-on manual for odor-taste associative learning in maggots.
    Michels B, Saumweber T, Biernacki R, Thur J, Glasgow RD, Schleyer M, Chen Y, Eschbach C, Stocker RF, Toshima N, Tanimura T, Louis M, Arias-Gil G, Marescotti M, Benfenati F, Gerber B
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 2017 Apr 19;11:45. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00045

    Larval Drosophila offer a study case for behavioral neurogenetics that is simple enough to be experimentally tractable, yet complex enough to be worth the effort. We provide a detailed, hands-on manual for Pavlovian odor-reward learning in these animals. Given the versatility of Drosophila for genetic analyses, combined with the evolutionarily shared genetic heritage with humans, the paradigm has utility not only in behavioral neurogenetics and experimental psychology, but for translational biomedicine as well. Together with the upcoming total synaptic connectome of the Drosophila nervous system and the possibilities of single-cell-specific transgene expression, it offers enticing opportunities for research. Indeed, the paradigm has already been adopted by a number of labs and is robust enough to be used for teaching in classroom settings. This has given rise to a demand for a detailed, hands-on manual directed at newcomers and/or at laboratory novices, and this is what we here provide. The paradigm and the present manual have a unique set of features: • The paradigm is cheap, easy, and robust; • The manual is detailed enough for newcomers or laboratory novices; • It briefly covers the essential scientific context; • It includes sheets for scoring, data analysis, and display; • It is multilingual: in addition to an English version we provide German, French, Japanese, Spanish and Italian language versions as well. The present manual can thus foster science education at an earlier age and enable research by a broader community than has been the case to date.

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