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22 Janelia Publications

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    12/16/21 | Synaptic targets of photoreceptors specialized to detect color and skylight polarization in .
    Kind E, Longden KD, Nern A, Zhao A, Sancer G, Flynn MA, Laughland CW, Gezahegn B, Ludwig HD, Thomson AG, Obrusnik T, Alarcón PG, Dionne H, Bock DD, Rubin GM, Reiser MB, Wernet MF
    eLife. 2021 Dec 16;10:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.71858

    Color and polarization provide complementary information about the world and are detected by specialized photoreceptors. However, the downstream neural circuits that process these distinct modalities are incompletely understood in any animal. Using electron microscopy, we have systematically reconstructed the synaptic targets of the photoreceptors specialized to detect color and skylight polarization in Drosophila, and we have used light microscopy to confirm many of our findings. We identified known and novel downstream targets that are selective for different wavelengths or polarized light, and followed their projections to other areas in the optic lobes and the central brain. Our results revealed many synapses along the photoreceptor axons between brain regions, new pathways in the optic lobes, and spatially segregated projections to central brain regions. Strikingly, photoreceptors in the polarization-sensitive dorsal rim area target fewer cell types, and lack strong connections to the lobula, a neuropil involved in color processing. Our reconstruction identifies shared wiring and modality-specific specializations for color and polarization vision, and provides a comprehensive view of the first steps of the pathways processing color and polarized light inputs.

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    12/06/21 | Functional architecture of neural circuits for leg proprioception in Drosophila.
    Chen C, Agrawal S, Mark B, Mamiya A, Sustar A, Phelps JS, Lee WA, Dickson BJ, Card GM, Tuthill JC
    Current Biology. 2021 Dec 06;31(23):5163. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.09.035

    To effectively control their bodies, animals rely on feedback from proprioceptive mechanosensory neurons. In the Drosophila leg, different proprioceptor subtypes monitor joint position, movement direction, and vibration. Here, we investigate how these diverse sensory signals are integrated by central proprioceptive circuits. We find that signals for leg joint position and directional movement converge in second-order neurons, revealing pathways for local feedback control of leg posture. Distinct populations of second-order neurons integrate tibia vibration signals across pairs of legs, suggesting a role in detecting external substrate vibration. In each pathway, the flow of sensory information is dynamically gated and sculpted by inhibition. Overall, our results reveal parallel pathways for processing of internal and external mechanosensory signals, which we propose mediate feedback control of leg movement and vibration sensing, respectively. The existence of a functional connectivity map also provides a resource for interpreting connectomic reconstruction of neural circuits for leg proprioception.

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    01/01/21 | Neural circuit mechanisms of sexual receptivity in Drosophila females.
    Wang K, Wang F, Forknall N, Yang T, Patrick C, Parekh R, Dickson BJ
    Nature. 2021 Jan 01;589(7843):577-81. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2972-7

    Choosing a mate is one of the most consequential decisions a female will make during her lifetime. A female fly signals her willingness to mate by opening her vaginal plates, allowing a courting male to copulate. Vaginal plate opening (VPO) occurs in response to the male courtship song and is dependent on the mating status of the female. How these exteroceptive (song) and interoceptive (mating status) inputs are integrated to regulate VPO remains unknown. Here we characterize the neural circuitry that implements mating decisions in the brain of female Drosophila melanogaster. We show that VPO is controlled by a pair of female-specific descending neurons (vpoDNs). The vpoDNs receive excitatory input from auditory neurons (vpoENs), which are tuned to specific features of the D. melanogaster song, and from pC1 neurons, which encode the mating status of the female. The song responses of vpoDNs, but not vpoENs, are attenuated upon mating, accounting for the reduced receptivity of mated females. This modulation is mediated by pC1 neurons. The vpoDNs thus directly integrate the external and internal signals that control the mating decisions of Drosophila females.

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    12/01/20 | A programmable sequence of reporters for lineage analysis.
    Garcia-Marques J, Espinosa-Medina I, Ku K, Yang C, Koyama M, Yu H, Lee T
    Nature Neuroscience. 2020 Dec 01;23(12):1618-28. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0676-9

    We present CLADES (cell lineage access driven by an edition sequence), a technology for cell lineage studies based on CRISPR-Cas9 techniques. CLADES relies on a system of genetic switches to activate and inactivate reporter genes in a predetermined order. Targeting CLADES to progenitor cells allows the progeny to inherit a sequential cascade of reporters, thereby coupling birth order to reporter expression. This system, which can also be temporally induced by heat shock, enables the temporal resolution of lineage development and can therefore be used to deconstruct an extended cell lineage by tracking the reporters expressed in the progeny. When targeted to the germ line, the same cascade progresses across animal generations, predominantly marking each generation with the corresponding combination of reporters. CLADES therefore offers an innovative strategy for making programmable cascades of genes that can be used for genetic manipulation or to record serial biological events.

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    10/05/20 | Circuit and behavioral mechanisms of sexual rejection by drosophila females.
    Wang F, Wang K, Forknall N, Parekh R, Dickson BJ
    Current Biology. 2020 Oct 05;30(19):. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.083

    The mating decisions of Drosophila melanogaster females are primarily revealed through either of two discrete actions: opening of the vaginal plates to allow copulation, or extrusion of the ovipositor to reject the male. Both actions are triggered by the male courtship song, and both are dependent upon the female's mating status. Virgin females are more likely to open their vaginal plates in response to song; mated females are more likely to extrude their ovipositor. Here, we examine the neural cause and behavioral consequence of ovipositor extrusion. We show that the DNp13 descending neurons act as command-type neurons for ovipositor extrusion, and that ovipositor extrusion is an effective deterrent only when performed by females that have previously mated. The DNp13 neurons respond to male song via direct synaptic input from the pC2l auditory neurons. Mating status does not modulate the song responses of DNp13 neurons, but rather how effectively they can engage the motor circuits for ovipositor extrusion. We present evidence that mating status information is mediated by ppk sensory neurons in the uterus, which are activated upon ovulation. Vaginal plate opening and ovipositor extrusion are thus controlled by anatomically and functionally distinct circuits, highlighting the diversity of neural decision-making circuits even in the context of closely related behaviors with shared exteroceptive and interoceptive inputs.

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    04/07/20 | Conservation and divergence of related neuronal lineages in the central brain.
    Lee Y, Yang C, Miyares RL, Huang Y, He Y, Ren Q, Chen H, Kawase T, Ito M, Otsuna H, Sugino K, Aso Y, Ito K, Lee T
    eLife. 2020 Apr 07;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.53518

    Wiring a complex brain requires many neurons with intricate cell specificity, generated by a limited number of neural stem cells. central brain lineages are a predetermined series of neurons, born in a specific order. To understand how lineage identity translates to neuron morphology, we mapped 18 central brain lineages. While we found large aggregate differences between lineages, we also discovered shared patterns of morphological diversification. Lineage identity plus Notch-mediated sister fate govern primary neuron trajectories, whereas temporal fate diversifies terminal elaborations. Further, morphological neuron types may arise repeatedly, interspersed with other types. Despite the complexity, related lineages produce similar neuron types in comparable temporal patterns. Different stem cells even yield two identical series of dopaminergic neuron types, but with unrelated sister neurons. Together, these phenomena suggest that straightforward rules drive incredible neuronal complexity, and that large changes in morphology can result from relatively simple fating mechanisms.

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    03/23/20 | Recurrent architecture for adaptive regulation of learning in the insect brain.
    Eschbach C, Fushiki A, Winding M, Schneider-Mizell CM, Shao M, Arruda R, Eichler K, Valdes-Aleman J, Ohyama T, Thum AS, Gerber B, Fetter RD, Truman JW, Litwin-Kumar A, Cardona A, Zlatic M, Cardona A, Zlatic M
    Nature Neuroscience. 2020 Mar 23;23(4):544-55. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0607-9

    Dopaminergic neurons (DANs) drive learning across the animal kingdom, but the upstream circuits that regulate their activity and thereby learning remain poorly understood. We provide a synaptic-resolution connectome of the circuitry upstream of all DANs in a learning center, the mushroom body of Drosophila larva. We discover afferent sensory pathways and a large population of neurons that provide feedback from mushroom body output neurons and link distinct memory systems (aversive and appetitive). We combine this with functional studies of DANs and their presynaptic partners and with comprehensive circuit modeling. We find that DANs compare convergent feedback from aversive and appetitive systems, which enables the computation of integrated predictions that may improve future learning. Computational modeling reveals that the discovered feedback motifs increase model flexibility and performance on learning tasks. Our study provides the most detailed view to date of biological circuit motifs that support associative learning.

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    03/18/20 | CAMIO: a transgenic CRISPR pipeline to create diverse targeted genome deletions in Drosophila.
    Chen H, Marques JG, Sugino K, Wei D, Miyares RL, Lee T
    Nucleic Acids Research. 2020 Mar 18:. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkaa177

    The genome is the blueprint for an organism. Interrogating the genome, especially locating critical cis-regulatory elements, requires deletion analysis. This is conventionally performed using synthetic constructs, making it cumbersome and non-physiological. Thus, we created Cas9-mediated Arrayed Mutagenesis of Individual Offspring (CAMIO) to achieve comprehensive analysis of a targeted region of native DNA. CAMIO utilizes CRISPR that is spatially restricted to generate independent deletions in the intact Drosophila genome. Controlled by recombination, a single guide RNA is stochastically chosen from a set targeting a specific DNA region. Combining two sets increases variability, leading to either indels at 1-2 target sites or inter-target deletions. Cas9 restriction to male germ cells elicits autonomous double-strand-break repair, consequently creating offspring with diverse mutations. Thus, from a single population cross, we can obtain a deletion matrix covering a large expanse of DNA at both coarse and fine resolution. We demonstrate the ease and power of CAMIO by mapping 5'UTR sequences crucial for chinmo's post-transcriptional regulation.

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    03/02/20 | Neural circuitry linking mating and egg laying in Drosophila females.
    Wang F, Wang K, Forknall N, Patrick C, Yang T, Parekh R, Bock D, Dickson BJ
    Nature. 2020 Mar 02;579(7797):101-105. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2055-9

    Mating and egg laying are tightly cooordinated events in the reproductive life of all oviparous females. Oviposition is typically rare in virgin females but is initiated after copulation. Here we identify the neural circuitry that links egg laying to mating status in Drosophila melanogaster. Activation of female-specific oviposition descending neurons (oviDNs) is necessary and sufficient for egg laying, and is equally potent in virgin and mated females. After mating, sex peptide-a protein from the male seminal fluid-triggers many behavioural and physiological changes in the female, including the onset of egg laying. Sex peptide is detected by sensory neurons in the uterus, and silences these neurons and their postsynaptic ascending neurons in the abdominal ganglion. We show that these abdominal ganglion neurons directly activate the female-specific pC1 neurons. GABAergic (γ-aminobutyric-acid-releasing) oviposition inhibitory neurons (oviINs) mediate feed-forward inhibition from pC1 neurons to both oviDNs and their major excitatory input, the oviposition excitatory neurons (oviENs). By attenuating the abdominal ganglion inputs to pC1 neurons and oviINs, sex peptide disinhibits oviDNs to enable egg laying after mating. This circuitry thus coordinates the two key events in female reproduction: mating and egg laying.

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    02/17/20 | Behavioral features of motivated response to alcohol in Drosophila.
    Catalano JL, Mei N, Azanchi R, Song S, Blackwater T, Heberlein U, Kaun KR
    bioRxiv. 2020 Feb 17:

    Animals avoid predators and find the best food and mates by learning from the consequences of their behavior. However, reinforcers are not always uniquely appetitive or aversive but can have complex properties. Most intoxicating substances fall within this category; provoking aversive sensory and physiological reactions while simultaneously inducing overwhelming appetitive properties. Here we describe the subtle behavioral features associated with continued seeking for alcohol despite aversive consequences. We developed an automated runway apparatus to measure how Drosophila respond to consecutive exposures of a volatilized substance. Behavior within this Behavioral Expression of Ethanol Reinforcement Runway (BEER Run) demonstrated a defined shift from aversive to appetitive responses to volatilized ethanol. Behavioral metrics attained by combining computer vision and machine learning methods, reveal that a subset of 9 classified behaviors and component behavioral features associate with this shift. We propose this combination of 9 be

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