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13 Janelia Publications

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    07/27/20 | A general method to optimize and functionalize red-shifted rhodamine dyes.
    Grimm JB, Tkachuk AN, Xie L, Choi H, Mohar B, Falco N, Schaefer K, Patel R, Zheng Q, Liu Z, Lippincott-Schwartz J, Brown TA, Lavis LD
    Nature Methods. 2020 Jul 27:. doi: 10.1038/s41592-020-0909-6

    Expanding the palette of fluorescent dyes is vital to push the frontier of biological imaging. Although rhodamine dyes remain the premier type of small-molecule fluorophore owing to their bioavailability and brightness, variants excited with far-red or near-infrared light suffer from poor performance due to their propensity to adopt a lipophilic, nonfluorescent form. We report a framework for rationalizing rhodamine behavior in biological environments and a general chemical modification for rhodamines that optimizes long-wavelength variants and enables facile functionalization with different chemical groups. This strategy yields red-shifted 'Janelia Fluor' (JF) dyes useful for biological imaging experiments in cells and in vivo.

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    03/04/20 | Recurrent interactions in local cortical circuits.
    Peron S, Pancholi R, Voelcker B, Wittenbach JD, Ólafsdóttir HF, Freeman J, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2020 Mar 04;579(7798):256-59. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2062-x

    Most cortical synapses are local and excitatory. Local recurrent circuits could implement amplification, allowing pattern completion and other computations. Cortical circuits contain subnetworks that consist of neurons with similar receptive fields and increased connectivity relative to the network average. Cortical neurons that encode different types of information are spatially intermingled and distributed over large brain volumes, and this complexity has hindered attempts to probe the function of these subnetworks by perturbing them individually. Here we use computational modelling, optical recordings and manipulations to probe the function of recurrent coupling in layer 2/3 of the mouse vibrissal somatosensory cortex during active tactile discrimination. A neural circuit model of layer 2/3 revealed that recurrent excitation enhances sensory signals by amplification, but only for subnetworks with increased connectivity. Model networks with high amplification were sensitive to damage: loss of a few members of the subnetwork degraded stimulus encoding. We tested this prediction by mapping neuronal selectivity and photoablating neurons with specific selectivity. Ablation of a small proportion of layer 2/3 neurons (10-20, less than 5% of the total) representing touch markedly reduced responses in the spared touch representation, but not in other representations. Ablations most strongly affected neurons with stimulus responses that were similar to those of the ablated population, which is also consistent with network models. Recurrence among cortical neurons with similar selectivity therefore drives input-specific amplification during behaviour.

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    01/16/20 | Cortical pattern generation during dexterous movement is input-driven.
    Sauerbrei BA, Guo J, Cohen JD, Mischiati M, Guo W, Kabra M, Verma N, Mensh B, Branson K, Hantman AW
    Nature. 2020 Jan 16;577(7790):386-91. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1869-9

    The motor cortex controls skilled arm movement by sending temporal patterns of activity to lower motor centres. Local cortical dynamics are thought to shape these patterns throughout movement execution. External inputs have been implicated in setting the initial state of the motor cortex, but they may also have a pattern-generating role. Here we dissect the contribution of local dynamics and inputs to cortical pattern generation during a prehension task in mice. Perturbing cortex to an aberrant state prevented movement initiation, but after the perturbation was released, cortex either bypassed the normal initial state and immediately generated the pattern that controls reaching or failed to generate this pattern. The difference in these two outcomes was probably a result of external inputs. We directly investigated the role of inputs by inactivating the thalamus; this perturbed cortical activity and disrupted limb kinematics at any stage of the movement. Activation of thalamocortical axon terminals at different frequencies disrupted cortical activity and arm movement in a graded manner. Simultaneous recordings revealed that both thalamic activity and the current state of cortex predicted changes in cortical activity. Thus, the pattern generator for dexterous arm movement is distributed across multiple, strongly interacting brain regions.

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    10/30/18 | The subiculum is a patchwork of discrete subregions.
    Cembrowski MS, Wang L, Lemire AL, Copeland M, DiLisio SF, Clements J, Spruston N
    eLife. 2018 Oct 30;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.37701

    In the hippocampus, the classical pyramidal cell type of the subiculum acts as a primary output, conveying hippocampal signals to a diverse suite of downstream regions. Accumulating evidence suggests that the subiculum pyramidal cell population may actually be comprised of discrete subclasses. Here, we investigated the extent and organizational principles governing pyramidal cell heterogeneity throughout the mouse subiculum. Using single-cell RNA-seq, we find that the subiculum pyramidal cell population can be deconstructed into eight separable subclasses. These subclasses were mapped onto abutting spatial domains, ultimately producing a complex laminar and columnar organization with heterogeneity across classical dorsal-ventral, proximal-distal, and superficial-deep axes. We further show that these transcriptomically defined subclasses correspond to differential protein products and can be associated with specific projection targets. This work deconstructs the complex landscape of subiculum pyramidal cells into spatially segregated subclasses that may be observed, controlled, and interpreted in future experiments.

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    10/11/18 | Thy1 transgenic mice expressing the red fluorescent calcium indicator jRGECO1a for neuronal population imaging in vivo.
    Dana H, Novak O, Guardado-Montesino M, Fransen JW, Hu A, Borghuis BG, Guo C, Kim DS, Svoboda K
    PloS One. 2018;13(10):e0205444. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205444

    Calcium imaging is commonly used to measure the neural activity of large groups of neurons in mice. Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) can be delivered for this purpose using non-invasive genetic methods. Compared to viral gene transfer, transgenic targeting of GECIs provides stable long-term expression and obviates the need for invasive viral injections. Transgenic mice expressing the green GECI GCaMP6 are already widely used. Here we present the generation and characterization of transgenic mice expressing the sensitive red GECI jRGECO1a, driven by the Thy1 promoter. Four transgenic lines with different expression patterns showed sufficiently high expression for cellular in vivo imaging. We used two-photon microscopy to characterize visual responses of individual neurons in the visual cortex in vivo. The signal-to-noise ratio in transgenic mice was comparable to, or better than, mice transduced with adeno-associated virus. In addition, we show that Thy1-jRGECO1a transgenic mice are useful for transcranial population imaging and functional mapping using widefield fluorescence microscopy. We also demonstrate imaging of visual responses in retinal ganglion cells in vitro. Thy1-jRGECO1a transgenic mice are therefore a useful addition to the toolbox for imaging activity in intact neural networks.

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    04/10/18 | Dissociable structural and functional hippocampal outputs via distinct subiculum cell classes.
    Cembrowski MS, Phillips MG, DiLisio SF, Shields BC, Winnubst J, Chandrashekar J, Bas E, Spruston N
    Cell. 2018 Apr 10;173(5):1280-92. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.031

    The mammalian hippocampus, comprised of serially connected subfields, participates in diverse behavioral and cognitive functions. It has been postulated that parallel circuitry embedded within hippocampal subfields may underlie such functional diversity. We sought to identify, delineate, and manipulate this putatively parallel architecture in the dorsal subiculum, the primary output subfield of the dorsal hippocampus. Population and single-cell RNA-seq revealed that the subiculum can be divided into two spatially adjacent subregions associated with prominent differences in pyramidal cell gene expression. Pyramidal cells occupying these two regions differed in their long-range inputs, local wiring, projection targets, and electrophysiological properties. Leveraging gene-expression differences across these regions, we use genetically restricted neuronal silencing to show that these regions differentially contribute to spatial working memory. This work provides a coherent molecular-, cellular-, circuit-, and behavioral-level demonstration that the hippocampus embeds structurally and functionally dissociable streams within its serial architecture.

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    12/31/17 | A topographic axis of transcriptional identity in thalamus.
    Phillips JW, Schulman A, Hara E, Liu C, Shields BC, Korff W, Lemire A, Dudman JT, Nelson SB, Hantman AW
    bioRxiv. 2017 Dec 31:241315. doi: 10.1101/241315

    A fundamental goal in neuroscience is to uncover common principles by which different modalities of information are processed. In the mammalian brain, thalamus acts as the essential hub for forebrain circuits handling inputs from sensory, motor, limbic, and cognitive pathways. Whether thalamus imposes common transformations on each of these modalities is unknown. Molecular characterization offers a principled approach to revealing the organization of thalamus. Using near-comprehensive and projection-specific transcriptomic sequencing, we found that almost all thalamic nuclei fit into one of three profiles. These profiles lie on a single axis of genetic variance which is aligned with the mediolateral spatial axis of thalamus. Genes defining this axis of variance include receptors and ion channels, providing a systematic diversification of input/output transformations across the topography of thalamus. Single cell transcriptional profiling revealed graded heterogeneity within individual thalamic nuclei, demonstrating that a spectrum of cell types and potentially diverse input/output transforms exist within a given thalamic nucleus. Together, our data argue for an archetypal organization of pathways serving diverse input modalities, and provides a comprehensive organizational scheme for thalamus.

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    04/07/17 | Deconstructing behavioral neuropharmacology with cellular specificity.
    Shields BC, Kahuno E, Kim C, Apostolides PF, Brown J, Lindo S, Mensh BD, Dudman JT, Lavis LD, Tadross MR
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 Apr 07;356(6333):. doi: 10.1126/science.aaj2161

    Behavior has molecular, cellular, and circuit determinants. However, because many proteins are broadly expressed, their acute manipulation within defined cells has been difficult. Here, we combined the speed and molecular specificity of pharmacology with the cell type specificity of genetic tools. DART (drugs acutely restricted by tethering) is a technique that rapidly localizes drugs to the surface of defined cells, without prior modification of the native target. We first developed an AMPAR antagonist DART, with validation in cultured neuronal assays, in slices of mouse dorsal striatum, and in behaving mice. In parkinsonian animals, motor deficits were causally attributed to AMPARs in indirect spiny projection neurons (iSPNs) and to excess phasic firing of tonically active interneurons (TANs). Together, iSPNs and TANs (i.e., D2 cells) drove akinesia, whereas movement execution deficits reflected the ratio of AMPARs in D2 versus D1 cells. Finally, we designed a muscarinic antagonist DART in one iteration, demonstrating applicability of the method to diverse targets.

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    10/19/16 | A designer AAV variant permits efficient retrograde access to projection neurons.
    Tervo DG, Hwang B, Viswanathan S, Gaj T, Lavzin M, Ritola KD, Lindo S, Michael S, Kuleshova E, Ojala D, Huang C, Gerfen CR, Schiller J, Dudman JT, Hantman AW, Looger LL, Schaffer DV, Karpova AY
    Neuron. 2016 Oct 19;92(2):372-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2016.09.021

    Efficient retrograde access to projection neurons for the delivery of sensors and effectors constitutes an important and enabling capability for neural circuit dissection. Such an approach would also be useful for gene therapy, including the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by pathological spread through functionally connected and highly distributed networks. Viral vectors, in particular, are powerful gene delivery vehicles for the nervous system, but all available tools suffer from inefficient retrograde transport or limited clinical potential. To address this need, we applied in vivo directed evolution to engineer potent retrograde functionality into the capsid of adeno-associated virus (AAV), a vector that has shown promise in neuroscience research and the clinic. A newly evolved variant, rAAV2-retro, permits robust retrograde access to projection neurons with efficiency comparable to classical synthetic retrograde tracers and enables sufficient sensor/effector expression for functional circuit interrogation and in vivo genome editing in targeted neuronal populations. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

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    05/24/16 | Design and synthesis of a calcium-sensitive photocage.
    Heckman LM, Grimm JB, Schreiter ER, Kim C, Verdecia MA, Shields BC, Lavis LD
    Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English). 2016 May 24:. doi: 10.1002/anie.201602941

    Photolabile protecting groups (or "photocages") enable precise spatiotemporal control of chemical functionality and facilitate advanced biological experiments. Extant photocages exhibit a simple input-output relationship, however, where application of light elicits a photochemical reaction irrespective of the environment. Herein, we refine and extend the concept of photolabile groups, synthesizing the first Ca(2+) -sensitive photocage. This system functions as a chemical coincidence detector, releasing small molecules only in the presence of both light and elevated [Ca(2+) ]. Caging a fluorophore with this ion-sensitive moiety yields an "ion integrator" that permanently marks cells undergoing high Ca(2+) flux during an illumination-defined time period. Our general design concept demonstrates a new class of light-sensitive material for cellular imaging, sensing, and targeted molecular delivery.

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