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10 Janelia Publications

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    09/03/22 | Motion of single molecular tethers reveals dynamic subdomains at ER-mitochondria contact sites
    Christopher J. Obara , Jonathon Nixon-Abell , Andrew S. Moore , Federica Riccio , David P. Hoffman , Gleb Shtengel , C. Shan Xu , Kathy Schaefer , H. Amalia Pasolli , Jean-Baptiste Masson , Harald F. Hess , Christopher P. Calderon , Craig Blackstone , Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz
    bioRxiv. 2022 Sep 03:. doi: 10.1101/2022.09.03.505525

    To coordinate cellular physiology, eukaryotic cells rely on the inter-organelle transfer of molecules at specialized organelle-organelle contact sites1,2. Endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria contact sites (ERMCSs) are particularly vital communication hubs, playing key roles in the exchange of signaling molecules, lipids, and metabolites3. ERMCSs are maintained by interactions between complementary tethering molecules on the surface of each organelle4,5. However, due to the extreme sensitivity of these membrane interfaces to experimental perturbation6,7, a clear understanding of their nanoscale structure and regulation is still lacking. Here, we combine 3D electron microscopy with high-speed molecular tracking of a model organelle tether, VAPB, to map the structure and diffusion landscape of ERMCSs. From EM reconstructions, we identified subdomains within the contact site where ER membranes dramatically deform to match local mitochondrial curvature. In parallel live cell experiments, we observed that the VAPB tethers that mediate this interface were not immobile, but rather highly dynamic, entering and leaving the site in seconds. These subdomains enlarged during nutrient stress, indicating ERMCSs can readily remodel under different physiological conditions. An ALS-associated mutation in VAPB altered the normal fluidity of contact sites, likely perturbing effective communication across the contact site and preventing remodeling. These results establish high speed single molecule imaging as a new tool for mapping the structure of contact site interfaces and suggest that the diffusion landscape of VAPB is a crucial component of ERMCS homeostasis.

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    11/01/21 | An open-access volume electron microscopy atlas of whole cells and tissues.
    Xu CS, Pang S, Shtengel G, Müller A, Ritter AT, Hoffman HK, Takemura S, Lu Z, Pasolli HA, Iyer N, Chung J, Bennett D, Weigel AV, Freeman M, Van Engelenburg SB, Walther TC, Farese RV, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Mellman I, Solimena M, Hess HF
    Nature. 2021 Nov 1;599(7883):147-51. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03992-4

    Understanding cellular architecture is essential for understanding biology. Electron microscopy (EM) uniquely visualizes cellular structures with nanometre resolution. However, traditional methods, such as thin-section EM or EM tomography, have limitations in that they visualize only a single slice or a relatively small volume of the cell, respectively. Focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) has demonstrated the ability to image small volumes of cellular samples with 4-nm isotropic voxels. Owing to advances in the precision and stability of FIB milling, together with enhanced signal detection and faster SEM scanning, we have increased the volume that can be imaged with 4-nm voxels by two orders of magnitude. Here we present a volume EM atlas at such resolution comprising ten three-dimensional datasets for whole cells and tissues, including cancer cells, immune cells, mouse pancreatic islets and Drosophila neural tissues. These open access data (via OpenOrganelle) represent the foundation of a field of high-resolution whole-cell volume EM and subsequent analyses, and we invite researchers to explore this atlas and pose questions.

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    11/01/21 | Whole-cell organelle segmentation in volume electron microscopy.
    Heinrich L, Bennett D, Ackerman D, Park W, Bogovic J, Eckstein N, Petruncio A, Clements J, Pang S, Xu CS, Funke J, Korff W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Saalfeld S, Weigel AV, COSEM Project Team
    Nature. 2021 Nov 01;599(7883):141-46. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03977-3

    Cells contain hundreds of organelles and macromolecular assemblies. Obtaining a complete understanding of their intricate organization requires the nanometre-level, three-dimensional reconstruction of whole cells, which is only feasible with robust and scalable automatic methods. Here, to support the development of such methods, we annotated up to 35 different cellular organelle classes-ranging from endoplasmic reticulum to microtubules to ribosomes-in diverse sample volumes from multiple cell types imaged at a near-isotropic resolution of 4 nm per voxel with focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). We trained deep learning architectures to segment these structures in 4 nm and 8 nm per voxel FIB-SEM volumes, validated their performance and showed that automatic reconstructions can be used to directly quantify previously inaccessible metrics including spatial interactions between cellular components. We also show that such reconstructions can be used to automatically register light and electron microscopy images for correlative studies. We have created an open data and open-source web repository, 'OpenOrganelle', to share the data, computer code and trained models, which will enable scientists everywhere to query and further improve automatic reconstruction of these datasets.

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    04/29/21 | ER-to-Golgi protein delivery through an interwoven, tubular network extending from ER.
    Weigel AV, Chang C, Shtengel G, Xu CS, Hoffman DP, Freeman M, Iyer N, Aaron J, Khuon S, Bogovic J, Qiu W, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Cell. 2021 Apr 29;184(9):2412. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.035

    Cellular versatility depends on accurate trafficking of diverse proteins to their organellar destinations. For the secretory pathway (followed by approximately 30% of all proteins), the physical nature of the vessel conducting the first portage (endoplasmic reticulum [ER] to Golgi apparatus) is unclear. We provide a dynamic 3D view of early secretory compartments in mammalian cells with isotropic resolution and precise protein localization using whole-cell, focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy with cryo-structured illumination microscopy and live-cell synchronized cargo release approaches. Rather than vesicles alone, the ER spawns an elaborate, interwoven tubular network of contiguous lipid bilayers (ER exit site) for protein export. This receptacle is capable of extending microns along microtubules while still connected to the ER by a thin neck. COPII localizes to this neck region and dynamically regulates cargo entry from the ER, while COPI acts more distally, escorting the detached, accelerating tubular entity on its way to joining the Golgi apparatus through microtubule-directed movement.

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    01/17/20 | Correlative three-dimensional super-resolution and block-face electron microscopy of whole vitreously frozen cells.
    Hoffman DP, Shtengel G, Xu CS, Campbell KR, Freeman M, Wang L, Milkie DE, Pasolli HA, Iyer N, Bogovic JA, Stabley DR, Shirinifard A, Pang S, Peale D, Schaefer K, Pomp W, Chang C, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Kirchhausen T, Solecki DJ, Betzig E, Hess HF
    Science. 2020 Jan 17;367(6475):. doi: 10.1126/science.aaz5357

    Within cells, the spatial compartmentalization of thousands of distinct proteins serves a multitude of diverse biochemical needs. Correlative super-resolution (SR) fluorescence and electron microscopy (EM) can elucidate protein spatial relationships to global ultrastructure, but has suffered from tradeoffs of structure preservation, fluorescence retention, resolution, and field of view. We developed a platform for three-dimensional cryogenic SR and focused ion beam-milled block-face EM across entire vitreously frozen cells. The approach preserves ultrastructure while enabling independent SR and EM workflow optimization. We discovered unexpected protein-ultrastructure relationships in mammalian cells including intranuclear vesicles containing endoplasmic reticulum-associated proteins, web-like adhesions between cultured neurons, and chromatin domains subclassified on the basis of transcriptional activity. Our findings illustrate the value of a comprehensive multimodal view of ultrastructural variability across whole cells.

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    06/21/19 | Spastin tethers lipid droplets to peroxisomes and directs fatty acid trafficking through ESCRT-III.
    Chang C, Weigel AV, Ioannou MS, Pasolli HA, Xu CS, Peale DR, Shtengel G, Freeman M, Hess HF, Blackstone C, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Journal of Cell Biology. 2019 Jun 21;218(8):2583-99. doi: 10.1101/544023

    Lipid droplets (LDs) are neutral lipid storage organelles that transfer lipids to various organelles including peroxisomes. Here, we show that the hereditary spastic paraplegia protein M1 Spastin, a membrane-bound AAA ATPase found on LDs, coordinates fatty acid (FA) trafficking from LDs to peroxisomes through two inter-related mechanisms. First, M1 Spastin forms a tethering complex with peroxisomal ABCD1 to promote LD-peroxisome contact formation. Second, M1 Spastin recruits the membrane-shaping ESCRT-III proteins IST1 and CHMP1B to LDs via its MIT domain to facilitate LD-to-peroxisome FA trafficking, possibly through IST1 and CHMP1B modifying LD membrane morphology. Furthermore, M1 Spastin, IST1 and CHMP1B are all required to relieve LDs of lipid peroxidation. The roles of M1 Spastin in tethering LDs to peroxisomes and in recruiting ESCRT-III components to LD-peroxisome contact sites for FA trafficking may help explain the pathogenesis of diseases associated with defective FA metabolism in LDs and peroxisomes.

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    05/30/19 | Neuron-astrocyte metabolic coupling protects against activity-induced fatty acid toxicity.
    Ioannou MS, Jackson J, Sheu S, Chang C, Weigel AV, Liu H, Pasolli HA, Xu CS, Pang S, Matthies D, Hess HF, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Liu Z
    Cell. 2019 May 30;177(6):1522-1535.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.04.001

    Metabolic coordination between neurons and astrocytes is critical for the health of the brain. However, neuron-astrocyte coupling of lipid metabolism, particularly in response to neural activity, remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we demonstrate that toxic fatty acids (FAs) produced in hyperactive neurons are transferred to astrocytic lipid droplets by ApoE-positive lipid particles. Astrocytes consume the FAs stored in lipid droplets via mitochondrial β-oxidation in response to neuronal activity and turn on a detoxification gene expression program. Our findings reveal that FA metabolism is coupled in neurons and astrocytes to protect neurons from FA toxicity during periods of enhanced activity. This coordinated mechanism for metabolizing FAs could underlie both homeostasis and a variety of disease states of the brain.

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    01/18/19 | Cortical column and whole-brain imaging 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, Sheu S, Pasolli HA, et al
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2019 Jan 18;363(6424):eaau8302. doi: 10.1126/science.aau8302

    Optical and electron microscopy have made tremendous inroads toward understanding the complexity of the brain. However, optical microscopy offers insufficient resolution to reveal subcellular details, and electron microscopy lacks the throughput and molecular contrast to visualize specific molecular constituents over millimeter-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. These included synaptic proteins at dendritic spines, myelination along axons, and presynaptic densities at dopaminergic neurons in every fly brain region. 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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    10/28/16 | Increased spatiotemporal resolution reveals highly dynamic dense tubular matrices in the peripheral ER.
    Nixon-Abell J, Obara CJ, Weigel AV, Li D, Legant WR, Xu C, Pasolli HA, Harvey K, Hess HF, Betzig E, Blackstone C, Lippincott-Schwartz J
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2016 Oct 28;354(6311):433-46. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf3928

    The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an expansive, membrane-enclosed organelle that plays crucial roles in numerous cellular functions. We used emerging superresolution imaging technologies to clarify the morphology and dynamics of the peripheral ER, which contacts and modulates most other intracellular organelles. Peripheral components of the ER have classically been described as comprising both tubules and flat sheets. We show that this system consists almost exclusively of tubules at varying densities, including structures that we term ER matrices. Conventional optical imaging technologies had led to misidentification of these structures as sheets because of the dense clustering of tubular junctions and a previously uncharacterized rapid form of ER motion. The existence of ER matrices explains previous confounding evidence that had indicated the occurrence of ER “sheet” proliferation after overexpression of tubular junction–forming proteins.

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    04/07/07 | Developing photo activated localization microscopy
    George H. Patterson , Eric Betzig , Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz , Harald F. Hess
    4th IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging: From Nano to Macro. 2007 Apr 15:. doi: 10.1109/isbi.2007.357008

    In conventional biological imaging, diffraction places a limit on the minimal xy distance at which two marked objects can be discerned. Consequently, resolution of target molecules within cells is typically coarser by two orders of magnitude than the molecular scale at which the proteins are spatially distributed. Photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) optically resolves selected subsets of protect fluorescent probes within cells at mean separations of <25 nanometers. It involves serial photoactivation and subsequent photobleaching of numerous sparse subsets of photoactivated fluorescent protein molecules. Individual molecules are localized at near molecular resolution by determining their centers of fluorescent emission via a statistical fit of their point-spread-function. The position information from all subsets is then assembled into a super-resolution image, in which individual fluorescent molecules are isolated at high molecular densities. In this paper, some of the limitations for PALM imaging under current experimental conditions are discussed.

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