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69 Janelia Publications

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    The central complex, a set of neuropils in the center of the insect brain, plays a crucial role in spatial aspects of sensory integration and motor control. Stereotyped neurons interconnect these neuropils with one another and with accessory structures. We screened over 5000 Drosophila melanogaster GAL4 lines for expression in two neuropils, the noduli (NO) of the central complex and the asymmetrical body (AB), and used multicolor stochastic labelling to analyze the morphology, polarity and organization of individual cells in a subset of the GAL4 lines that showed expression in these neuropils. We identified nine NO and three AB cell types and describe them here. The morphology of the NO neurons suggests that they receive input primarily in the lateral accessory lobe and send output to each of the six paired noduli. We demonstrate that the AB is a bilateral structure which exhibits asymmetry in size between the left and right bodies. We show that the AB neurons directly connect the AB to the central complex and accessory neuropils, that they target both the left and right ABs, and that one cell type preferentially innervates the right AB. We propose that the AB be considered a central complex neuropil in Drosophila. Finally, we present highly restricted GAL4 lines for most identified protocerebral bridge, NO and AB cell types. These lines, generated using the split-GAL4 method, will facilitate anatomical studies, behavioral assays, and physiological experiments. 

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    07/25/18 | An unbiased template of the Drosophila brain and ventral nerve cord.
    Bogovic JA, Otsuna H, Heinrich L, Ito M, Jeter J, Meissner GW, Nern A, Colonell J, Malkesman O, Saalfeld S
    bioRxiv. 2018 Jul 25:. doi: 10.1101/376384

    The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is an important model organism for neuroscience with a wide array of genetic tools that enable the mapping of individuals neurons and neural subtypes. Brain templates are essential for comparative biological studies because they enable analyzing many individuals in a common reference space. Several central brain templates exist for Drosophila, but every one is either biased, uses sub-optimal tissue preparation, is imaged at low resolution, or does not account for artifacts. No publicly available Drosophila ventral nerve cord template currently exists. In this work, we created high-resolution templates of the Drosophila brain and ventral nerve cord using the best-available technologies for imaging, artifact correction, stitching, and template construction using groupwise registration. We evaluated our central brain template against the four most competitive, publicly available brain templates and demonstrate that ours enables more accurate registration with fewer local deformations in shorter time.

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    07/23/18 | Cortical column and whole brain imaging of neural circuits with molecular contrast and nanoscale resolution.
    Gao R, Asano SM, Upadhyayula S, Pisarev I, Milkie DE, Liu T, Singh V, Graves AR, Huynh GH, Zhao Y, Bogovic JA, Colonell J, Ott CM, Zugates CT, Tappan S, Rodriguez A, Mosaliganti KR, Megason SG, Lippincott-Schwartz J, et al
    bioRxiv. 2018 Jul 23:. doi: 10.1101/374140

    Optical and electron microscopy have made tremendous inroads in understanding the complexity of the brain, but the former offers insufficient resolution to reveal subcellular details and the latter lacks the throughput and molecular contrast to visualize specific molecular constituents over mm-scale or larger dimensions. We combined expansion microscopy and lattice light sheet microscopy to image the nanoscale spatial relationships between proteins across the thickness of the mouse cortex or the entire Drosophila brain, including synaptic proteins at dendritic spines, myelination along axons, and presynaptic densities at dopaminergic neurons in every fly neuropil domain. The technology should enable statistically rich, large scale studies of neural development, sexual dimorphism, degree of stereotypy, and structural correlations to behavior or neural activity, all with molecular contrast.

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    Riddiford LabTruman LabRubin Lab
    04/04/18 | Juvenile hormone reveals mosaic developmental programs in the metamorphosing optic lobe of Drosophila melanogaster.
    Riddiford LM, Truman JW, Nern A
    Biology Open. 2018 Apr 04:. doi: 10.1242/bio.034025

    The development of the adult optic lobe (OL) of is directed by a wave of ingrowth of the photoreceptors over a two day period at the outset of metamorphosis which is accompanied by the appearance of the pupal-specific transcription factor Broad-Z3 (Br-Z3) and expression of early drivers in OL neurons. During this time, there are pulses of ecdysteroids that time the metamorphic events. At the outset, the transient appearance of juvenile hormone (JH) prevents precocious development of the OL caused by the ecdysteroid peak that initiates pupariation, but the artificial maintenance of JH after this time misdirects subsequent development. Axon ingrowth, Br-Z3 appearance and the expression of early drivers were unaffected, but aspects of later development such as the dendritic expansion of the lamina monopolar neurons and the expression of late drivers were suppressed. This effect of the exogenous JH mimic (JHM) pyriproxifen is lost by 24 hr after pupariation. Part of this effect of JHM is due to its suppression of the appearance of ecdysone receptor EcR-B1 that occurs after pupation and during early adult development.

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    Reiser LabRubin LabFly Functional Connectome
    12/18/17 | Behavioral state modulates the ON visual motion pathway of Drosophila.
    Strother JA, Wu S, Rogers EM, Eliason JL, Wong AM, Nern A, Reiser MB
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 Dec 18;115(1):E102-11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1703090115

    The behavioral state of an animal can dynamically modulate visual processing. In flies, the behavioral state is known to alter the temporal tuning of neurons that carry visual motion information into the central brain. However, where this modulation occurs and how it tunes the properties of this neural circuit are not well understood. Here, we show that the behavioral state alters the baseline activity levels and the temporal tuning of the first directionally selective neuron in the ON motion pathway (T4) as well as its primary input neurons (Mi1, Tm3, Mi4, Mi9). These effects are especially prominent in the inhibitory neuron Mi4, and we show that central octopaminergic neurons provide input to Mi4 and increase its excitability. We further show that octopamine neurons are required for sustained behavioral responses to fast-moving, but not slow-moving, visual stimuli in walking flies. These results indicate that behavioral-state modulation acts directly on the inputs to the directionally selective neurons and supports efficient neural coding of motion stimuli.

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    11/08/17 | Ultra-selective looming detection from radial motion opponency.
    Klapoetke NC, Nern A, Peek MY, Rogers EM, Breads P, Rubin GM, Reiser MB, Card GM
    Nature. 2017 Nov 08;551(7679):237-241. doi: 10.1038/nature24626

    Nervous systems combine lower-level sensory signals to detect higher-order stimulus features critical to survival, such as the visual looming motion created by an imminent collision or approaching predator. Looming-sensitive neurons have been identified in diverse animal species. Different large-scale visual features such as looming often share local cues, which means loom-detecting neurons face the challenge of rejecting confounding stimuli. Here we report the discovery of an ultra-selective looming detecting neuron, lobula plate/lobula columnar, type II (LPLC2) in Drosophila, and show how its selectivity is established by radial motion opponency. In the fly visual system, directionally selective small-field neurons called T4 and T5 form a spatial map in the lobula plate, where they each terminate in one of four retinotopic layers, such that each layer responds to motion in a different cardinal direction. Single-cell anatomical analysis reveals that each arm of the LPLC2 cross-shaped primary dendrites ramifies in one of these layers and extends along that layer's preferred motion direction. In vivo calcium imaging demonstrates that, as their shape predicts, individual LPLC2 neurons respond strongly to outward motion emanating from the centre of the neuron's receptive field. Each dendritic arm also receives local inhibitory inputs directionally selective for inward motion opposing the excitation. This radial motion opponency generates a balance of excitation and inhibition that makes LPLC2 non-responsive to related patterns of motion such as contraction, wide-field rotation or luminance change. As a population, LPLC2 neurons densely cover visual space and terminate onto the giant fibre descending neurons, which drive the jump muscle motor neuron to trigger an escape take off. Our findings provide a mechanistic description of the selective feature detection that flies use to discern and escape looming threats.

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    03/13/18 | Genetic reagents for making split-GAL4 lines in Drosophila.
    Dionne H, Hibbard KL, Cavallaro A, Kao J, Rubin GM
    Genetics . 2018 March;209(1):31-5. doi: 10.1101/197509

    The ability to reproducibly target expression of transgenes to small, defined subsets of cells is a key experimental tool for understanding many biological processes. The Drosophila nervous system contains thousands of distinct cell types and it has generally not been possible to limit expression to one or a few cell types when using a single segment of genomic DNA as an enhancer to drive expression. Intersectional methods, in which expression of the transgene only occurs where two different enhancers overlap in their expression patterns, can be used to achieve the desired specificity. This report describes a set of over 2,800 transgenic lines for use with the split-GAL4 intersectional method.

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    08/30/17 | A circuit node that integrates convergent input from neuromodulatory and social behavior-promoting neurons to control aggression in Drosophila.
    Watanabe K, Chiu H, Pfeiffer BD, Wong AM, Hoopfer ED, Rubin GM, Anderson DJ
    Neuron. 2017 Aug 30;95(5):1112-1128.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.08.017

    Diffuse neuromodulatory systems such as norepinephrine (NE) control brain-wide states such as arousal, but whether they control complex social behaviors more specifically is not clear. Octopamine (OA), the insect homolog of NE, is known to promote both arousal and aggression. We have performed a systematic, unbiased screen to identify OA receptor-expressing neurons (OARNs) that control aggression in Drosophila. Our results uncover a tiny population of male-specific aSP2 neurons that mediate a specific influence of OA on aggression, independent of any effect on arousal. Unexpectedly, these neurons receive convergent input from OA neurons and P1 neurons, a population of FruM(+) neurons that promotes male courtship behavior. Behavioral epistasis experiments suggest that aSP2 neurons may constitute an integration node at which OAergic neuromodulation can bias the output of P1 neurons to favor aggression over inter-male courtship. These results have potential implications for thinking about the role of related neuromodulatory systems in mammals.

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    07/18/17 | A connectome of a learning and memory center in the adult Drosophila brain.
    Takemura S, Aso Y, Hige T, Wong AM, Lu Z, Xu CS, Rivlin PK, Hess HF, Zhao T, Parag T, Berg S, Huang G, Katz WT, Olbris DJ, Plaza SM, Umayam LA, Aniceto R, Chang L, Lauchie S, et al
    eLife. 2017 Jul 18;6:e26975. doi: 10.7554/eLife.26975

    Understanding memory formation, storage and retrieval requires knowledge of the underlying neuronal circuits. In Drosophila, the mushroom body (MB) is the major site of associative learning. We reconstructed the morphologies and synaptic connections of all 983 neurons within the three functional units, or compartments, that compose the adult MB’s α lobe, using a dataset of isotropic 8-nm voxels collected by focused ion-beam milling scanning electron microscopy. We found that Kenyon cells (KCs), whose sparse activity encodes sensory information, each make multiple en passant synapses to MB output neurons (MBONs) in each compartment. Some MBONs have inputs from all KCs, while others differentially sample sensory modalities. Only six percent of KC>MBON synapses receive a direct synapse from a dopaminergic neuron (DAN). We identified two unanticipated classes of synapses, KC>DAN and DAN>MBON. DAN activation produces a slow depolarization of the MBON in these DAN>MBON synapses and can weaken memory recall.

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    07/13/17 | Mapping the neural substrates of behavior.
    Robie AA, Hirokawa J, Edwards AW, Umayam LA, Lee A, Phillips ML, Card GM, Korff W, Rubin GM, Simpson JH, Reiser MB, Branson KM
    Cell. 2017-07-13;170(2):393-406. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.06.032

    Assigning behavioral functions to neural structures has long been a central goal in neuroscience and is a necessary first step toward a circuit-level understanding of how the brain generates behavior. Here, we map the neural substrates of locomotion and social behaviors for Drosophila melanogaster using automated machine-vision and machine-learning techniques. From videos of 400,000 flies, we quantified the behavioral effects of activating 2,204 genetically targeted populations of neurons. We combined a novel quantification of anatomy with our behavioral analysis to create brain-behavior correlation maps, which are shared as browsable web pages and interactive software. Based on these maps, we generated hypotheses of regions of the brain causally related to sensory processing, locomotor control, courtship, aggression, and sleep. Our maps directly specify genetic tools to target these regions, which we used to identify a small population of neurons with a role in the control of walking.

    •We developed machine-vision methods to broadly and precisely quantify fly behavior•We measured effects of activating 2,204 genetically targeted neuronal populations•We created whole-brain maps of neural substrates of locomotor and social behaviors•We created resources for exploring our results and enabling further investigation

    Machine-vision analyses of large behavior and neuroanatomy data reveal whole-brain maps of regions associated with numerous complex behaviors.

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