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5 Janelia Publications

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    Zuker Lab
    11/26/15 | Sweet and bitter taste in the brain of awake behaving animals.
    Peng Y, Gillis-Smith S, Jin H, Tränkner D, Ryba NJ, Zuker CS
    Nature. 2015 Nov 26;527(7579):512-5. doi: 10.1038/nature15763

    Taste is responsible for evaluating the nutritious content of food, guiding essential appetitive behaviours, preventing the ingestion of toxic substances, and helping to ensure the maintenance of a healthy diet. Sweet and bitter are two of the most salient sensory percepts for humans and other animals; sweet taste allows the identification of energy-rich nutrients whereas bitter warns against the intake of potentially noxious chemicals. In mammals, information from taste receptor cells in the tongue is transmitted through multiple neural stations to the primary gustatory cortex in the brain. Recent imaging studies have shown that sweet and bitter are represented in the primary gustatory cortex by neurons organized in a spatial map, with each taste quality encoded by distinct cortical fields. Here we demonstrate that by manipulating the brain fields representing sweet and bitter taste we directly control an animal's internal representation, sensory perception, and behavioural actions. These results substantiate the segregation of taste qualities in the cortex, expose the innate nature of appetitive and aversive taste responses, and illustrate the ability of gustatory cortex to recapitulate complex behaviours in the absence of sensory input.

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    Zuker Lab
    01/15/15 | The neural representation of taste quality at the periphery.
    Barretto RP, Gillis-Smith S, Chandrashekar J, Yarmolinsky DA, Schnitzer MJ, Ryba NJ, Zuker CS
    Nature. 2015 Jan 15;517(7534):373-6. doi: 10.1038/nature13873

    The mammalian taste system is responsible for sensing and responding to the five basic taste qualities: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. Previously, we showed that each taste is detected by dedicated taste receptor cells (TRCs) on the tongue and palate epithelium. To understand how TRCs transmit information to higher neural centres, we examined the tuning properties of large ensembles of neurons in the first neural station of the gustatory system. Here, we generated and characterized a collection of transgenic mice expressing a genetically encoded calcium indicator in central and peripheral neurons, and used a gradient refractive index microendoscope combined with high-resolution two-photon microscopy to image taste responses from ganglion neurons buried deep at the base of the brain. Our results reveal fine selectivity in the taste preference of ganglion neurons; demonstrate a strong match between TRCs in the tongue and the principal neural afferents relaying taste information to the brain; and expose the highly specific transfer of taste information between taste cells and the central nervous system.

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    Zuker Lab
    08/05/14 | Population of sensory neurons essential for asthmatic hyperreactivity of inflamed airways.
    Tränkner D, Hahne N, Sugino K, Hoon MA, Zuker C
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2014 Aug 5;111(31):11515-20. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1411032111

    Asthma is a common debilitating inflammatory lung disease affecting over 200 million people worldwide. Here, we investigated neurogenic components involved in asthmatic-like attacks using the ovalbumin-sensitized murine model of the disease, and identified a specific population of neurons that are required for airway hyperreactivity. We show that ablating or genetically silencing these neurons abolished the hyperreactive broncho-constrictions, even in the presence of a fully developed lung inflammatory immune response. These neurons are found in the vagal ganglia and are characterized by the expression of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) ion channel. However, the TRPV1 channel itself is not required for the asthmatic-like hyperreactive airway response. We also demonstrate that optogenetic stimulation of this population of TRP-expressing cells with channelrhodopsin dramatically exacerbates airway hyperreactivity of inflamed airways. Notably, these cells express the sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 3 (S1PR3), and stimulation with a S1PR3 agonist efficiently induced broncho-constrictions, even in the absence of ovalbumin sensitization and inflammation. Our results show that the airway hyperreactivity phenotype can be physiologically dissociated from the immune component, and provide a platform for devising therapeutic approaches to asthma that target these pathways separately.

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    Zuker LabReiser Lab
    06/09/11 | Visual place learning in Drosophila melanogaster.
    Ofstad TA, Zuker CS, Reiser MB
    Nature. 2011 Jun 9;474(7350):204-7. doi: 10.1038/nature10131

    The ability of insects to learn and navigate to specific locations in the environment has fascinated naturalists for decades. The impressive navigational abilities of ants, bees, wasps and other insects demonstrate that insects are capable of visual place learning, but little is known about the underlying neural circuits that mediate these behaviours. Drosophila melanogaster (common fruit fly) is a powerful model organism for dissecting the neural circuitry underlying complex behaviours, from sensory perception to learning and memory. Drosophila can identify and remember visual features such as size, colour and contour orientation. However, the extent to which they use vision to recall specific locations remains unclear. Here we describe a visual place learning platform and demonstrate that Drosophila are capable of forming and retaining visual place memories to guide selective navigation. By targeted genetic silencing of small subsets of cells in the Drosophila brain, we show that neurons in the ellipsoid body, but not in the mushroom bodies, are necessary for visual place learning. Together, these studies reveal distinct neuroanatomical substrates for spatial versus non-spatial learning, and establish Drosophila as a powerful model for the study of spatial memories.

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    Zuker Lab
    02/18/11 | The coding of temperature in the Drosophila brain.
    Gallio M, Ofstad TA, Macpherson LJ, Wang JW, Zuker CS
    Cell. 2011 Feb 18;144(4):614-24. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.01.028

    Thermosensation is an indispensable sensory modality. Here, we study temperature coding in Drosophila, and show that temperature is represented by a spatial map of activity in the brain. First, we identify TRP channels that function in the fly antenna to mediate the detection of cold stimuli. Next, we identify the hot-sensing neurons and show that hot and cold antennal receptors project onto distinct, but adjacent glomeruli in the Proximal-Antennal-Protocerebrum (PAP) forming a thermotopic map in the brain. We use two-photon imaging to reveal the functional segregation of hot and cold responses in the PAP, and show that silencing the hot- or cold-sensing neurons produces animals with distinct and discrete deficits in their behavioral responses to thermal stimuli. Together, these results demonstrate that dedicated populations of cells orchestrate behavioral responses to different temperature stimuli, and reveal a labeled-line logic for the coding of temperature information in the brain.

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