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25 Janelia Publications

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    09/03/20 | A connectome of the adult drosophila central brain.
    Xu CS, Januszewski M, Lu Z, Takemura S, Hayworth KJ, Huang G, Shinomiya K, Maitin-Shepard J, Ackerman D, Berg S, Blakely T, Bogovic J, Clements J, Dolafi T, Hubbard P, Kainmueller D, Katz W, Kawase T, Khairy KA, Leavitt L, Li PH, Lindsey L, Neubarth N, Olbris DJ, Otsuna H, Troutman ET, Umayam L, Zhao T, Ito M, Goldammer J, Wolff T, Svirskas R, Schlegel P, Neace ER, Knecht CJ, Alvarado CX, Bailey DA, Ballinger S, Borycz JA, Canino BS
    eLife. 2020 Sep 03:. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.01.21.911859

    The neural circuits responsible for behavior remain largely unknown. Previous efforts have reconstructed the complete circuits of small animals, with hundreds of neurons, and selected circuits for larger animals. Here we (the FlyEM project at Janelia and collaborators at Google) summarize new methods and present the complete circuitry of a large fraction of the brain of a much more complex animal, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Improved methods include new procedures to prepare, image, align, segment, find synapses, and proofread such large data sets; new methods that define cell types based on connectivity in addition to morphology; and new methods to simplify access to a large and evolving data set. From the resulting data we derive a better definition of computational compartments and their connections; an exhaustive atlas of cell examples and types, many of them novel; detailed circuits for most of the central brain; and exploration of the statistics and structure of different brain compartments, and the brain as a whole. We make the data public, with a web site and resources specifically designed to make it easy to explore, for all levels of expertise from the expert to the merely curious. The public availability of these data, and the simplified means to access it, dramatically reduces the effort needed to answer typical circuit questions, such as the identity of upstream and downstream neural partners, the circuitry of brain regions, and to link the neurons defined by our analysis with genetic reagents that can be used to study their functions.

    Note: In the next few weeks, we will release a series of papers with more involved discussions. One paper will detail the hemibrain reconstruction with more extensive analysis and interpretation made possible by this dense connectome. Another paper will explore the central complex, a brain region involved in navigation, motor control, and sleep. A final paper will present insights from the mushroom body, a center of multimodal associative learning in the fly brain.

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    08/13/20 | Circuit and behavioral mechanisms of sexual rejection by drosophila females.
    Wang F, Wang K, Forknall N, Parekh R, Dickson BJ
    Current Biology. 2020 Aug 13:. 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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    03/02/20 | Kilohertz two-photon fluorescence microscopy imaging of neural activity in vivo.
    Wu J, Liang Y, Chen S, Hsu C, Chavarha M, Evans SW, Shi D, Lin MZ, Tsia KK, Ji N
    Nature Methods. 2020 Mar 02;17(3):287-290. doi: 10.1038/s41592-020-0762-7

    Understanding information processing in the brain requires monitoring neuronal activity at high spatiotemporal resolution. Using an ultrafast two-photon fluorescence microscope empowered by all-optical laser scanning, we imaged neuronal activity in vivo at up to 3,000 frames per second and submicrometer spatial resolution. This imaging method enabled monitoring of both supra- and subthreshold electrical activity down to 345 μm below the brain surface in head-fixed awake mice.

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    03/02/20 | Rapid mesoscale volumetric imaging of neural activity with synaptic resolution.
    Lu R, Liang Y, Meng G, Zhou P, Svoboda K, Paninski L, Ji N
    Nature Methods. 2020 Mar 02;17(3):291-4. doi: 10.1038/s41592-020-0760-9

    Imaging neurons and neural circuits over large volumes at high speed and subcellular resolution is a difficult task. Incorporating a Bessel focus module into a two-photon fluorescence mesoscope, we achieved rapid volumetric imaging of neural activity over the mesoscale with synaptic resolution. We applied the technology to calcium imaging of entire dendritic spans of neurons as well as neural ensembles within multiple cortical regions over two hemispheres of the awake mouse brain.

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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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    02/25/20 | High-throughput cellular-resolution synaptic connectivity mapping in vivo with concurrent two-photon optogenetics and volumetric Ca2+ imaging
    McRaven C, Tanese D, Zhang L, Yang C, Ahrens MB, Emiliani V, Koyama M
    bioRxiv. 2020 Feb 25:. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.21.959650

    The ability to measure synaptic connectivity and properties is essential for understanding neuronal circuits. However, existing methods that allow such measurements at cellular resolution are laborious and technically demanding. Here, we describe a system that allows such measurements in a high-throughput way by combining two-photon optogenetics and volumetric Ca2+ imaging with whole-cell recording. We reveal a circuit motif for generating fast undulatory locomotion in zebrafish.

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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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    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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    11/20/19 | Generation of stable heading representations in diverse visual scenes.
    Kim SS, Hermundstad AM, Romani S, Abbott LF, Jayaraman V
    Nature. 2019 Nov 20;576(7785):126-31. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1767-1

    Many animals rely on an internal heading representation when navigating in varied environments. How this representation is linked to the sensory cues that define different surroundings is unclear. In the fly brain, heading is represented by 'compass' neurons that innervate a ring-shaped structure known as the ellipsoid body. Each compass neuron receives inputs from 'ring' neurons that are selective for particular visual features; this combination provides an ideal substrate for the extraction of directional information from a visual scene. Here we combine two-photon calcium imaging and optogenetics in tethered flying flies with circuit modelling, and show how the correlated activity of compass and visual neurons drives plasticity, which flexibly transforms two-dimensional visual cues into a stable heading representation. We also describe how this plasticity enables the fly to convert a partial heading representation, established from orienting within part of a novel setting, into a complete heading representation. Our results provide mechanistic insight into the memory-related computations that are essential for flexible navigation in varied surroundings.

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    The palette of tools for stimulation and regulation of neural activity is continually expanding. One of the new methods being introduced is magnetogenetics, where mechano-sensitive and thermo-sensitive ion channels are genetically engineered to be closely coupled to the iron-storage protein ferritin. Such genetic constructs could provide a powerful new way of non-invasively activating ion channels in-vivo using external magnetic fields that easily penetrate biological tissue. Initial reports that introduced this new technology have sparked a vigorous debate on the plausibility of physical mechanisms of ion channel activation by means of external magnetic fields. I argue that the initial criticisms leveled against magnetogenetics as being physically implausible were possibly based on the overly simplistic and unnecessarily pessimistic assumptions about the magnetic spin configurations of iron in ferritin protein. Additionally, all the possible magnetic-field-based mechanisms of ion channel activation in magnetogenetics might not have been fully considered. I present and propose several new magneto-mechanical and magneto-thermal mechanisms of ion channel activation by iron-loaded ferritin protein that may elucidate and clarify some of the mysteries that presently challenge our understanding of the reported biological experiments. Finally, I present some additional puzzles that will require further theoretical and experimental investigation.

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