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17 Janelia Publications

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    04/11/22 | BRD2 compartmentalizes the accessible genome.
    Xie L, Dong P, Qi Y, Hsieh TS, English BP, Jung S, Chen X, De Marzio M, Casellas R, Chang HY, Zhang B, Tjian R, Liu Z
    Nature Genetics. 2022 Apr 11;54(4):481-491. doi: 10.1038/s41588-022-01044-9

    Mammalian chromosomes are organized into megabase-sized compartments that are further subdivided into topologically associating domains (TADs). While the formation of TADs is dependent on cohesin, the mechanism behind compartmentalization remains enigmatic. Here, we show that the bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) family scaffold protein BRD2 promotes spatial mixing and compartmentalization of active chromatin after cohesin loss. This activity is independent of transcription but requires BRD2 to recognize acetylated targets through its double bromodomain and interact with binding partners with its low-complexity domain. Notably, genome compartmentalization mediated by BRD2 is antagonized on the one hand by cohesin and on the other hand by the BET homolog protein BRD4, both of which inhibit BRD2 binding to chromatin. Polymer simulation of our data supports a BRD2-cohesin interplay model of nuclear topology, in which genome compartmentalization results from a competition between loop extrusion and chromatin-state-specific affinity interactions.

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    09/25/21 | Coding sequence-independent homology search identifies highly divergent homopteran putative effector gene family
    Stern D, Han C
    bioRxiv. 2021 Sep 25:. doi:

    Many genomes contain rapidly evolving and highly divergent genes whose homology to genes of known function often cannot be determined from sequence similarity alone. However, coding sequence-independent features of genes, such as intron-exon boundaries, often evolve more slowly than coding sequences and can provide complementary evidence for homology. We found that a linear logistic regression classifier using only structural features of rapidly evolving bicycle aphid effector genes identified many putative bicycle homologs in aphids, phylloxerids, and scale insects, whereas sequence similarity search methods yielded few homologs in most aphids and no homologs in phylloxerids and scale insects. Subsequent examination of sequence features and intron locations supported homology assignments. Differential expression studies of newly-identified bicycle homologs, together with prior proteomic studies, support the hypothesis that BICYCLE proteins act as plant effector proteins in many aphid species and perhaps also in phylloxerids and scale insects.

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    11/03/20 | Cell types and neuronal circuitry underlying female aggression in Drosophila.
    Schretter CE, Aso Y, Robie AA, Dreher M, Dolan M, Chen N, Ito M, Yang T, Parekh R, Branson KM, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2020 Nov 03;9:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58942

    Aggressive social interactions are used to compete for limited resources and are regulated by complex sensory cues and the organism's internal state. While both sexes exhibit aggression, its neuronal underpinnings are understudied in females. Here, we identify a population of sexually dimorphic aIPg neurons in the adult central brain whose optogenetic activation increased, and genetic inactivation reduced, female aggression. Analysis of GAL4 lines identified in an unbiased screen for increased female chasing behavior revealed the involvement of another sexually dimorphic neuron, pC1d, and implicated aIPg and pC1d neurons as core nodes regulating female aggression. Connectomic analysis demonstrated that aIPg neurons and pC1d are interconnected and suggest that aIPg neurons may exert part of their effect by gating the flow of visual information to descending neurons. Our work reveals important regulatory components of the neuronal circuitry that underlies female aggressive social interactions and provides tools for their manipulation.

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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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    01/03/20 | The neuropeptide Drosulfakinin regulates social isolation-induced aggression in Drosophila.
    Agrawal P, Kao D, Chung P, Looger LL
    Journal of Experimental Biology. 2020 Jan 03;223(2):. doi: 10.1242/jeb.207407

    Social isolation strongly modulates behavior across the animal kingdom. We utilized the fruit fly to study social isolation-driven changes in animal behavior and gene expression in the brain. RNA-seq identified several head-expressed genes strongly responding to social isolation or enrichment. Of particular interest, social isolation downregulated expression of the gene encoding the neuropeptide (), the homologue of vertebrate cholecystokinin (CCK), which is critical for many mammalian social behaviors. knockdown significantly increased social isolation-induced aggression. Genetic activation or silencing of neurons each similarly increased isolation-driven aggression. Our results suggest a U-shaped dependence of social isolation-induced aggressive behavior on signaling, similar to the actions of many neuromodulators in other contexts.

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    11/14/19 | Nitric oxide acts as a cotransmitter in a subset of dopaminergic neurons to diversify memory dynamics.
    Aso Y, Ray RP, Long X, Bushey D, Cichewicz K, Ngo T, Sharp B, Christoforou C, Hu A, Lemire AL, Tillberg P, Hirsh J, Litwin-Kumar A, Rubin GM
    eLife. 2019 Nov 14;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.49257

    Animals employ diverse learning rules and synaptic plasticity dynamics to record temporal and statistical information about the world. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this diversity are poorly understood. The anatomically defined compartments of the insect mushroom body function as parallel units of associative learning, with different learning rates, memory decay dynamics and flexibility (Aso & Rubin 2016). Here we show that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a neurotransmitter in a subset of dopaminergic neurons in . NO's effects develop more slowly than those of dopamine and depend on soluble guanylate cyclase in postsynaptic Kenyon cells. NO acts antagonistically to dopamine; it shortens memory retention and facilitates the rapid updating of memories. The interplay of NO and dopamine enables memories stored in local domains along Kenyon cell axons to be specialized for predicting the value of odors based only on recent events. Our results provide key mechanistic insights into how diverse memory dynamics are established in parallel memory systems.

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    09/16/19 | A repeated molecular architecture across thalamic pathways.
    Phillips JW, Schulmann A, Hara E, Winnubst J, Liu C, Valakh V, Wang L, Shields BC, Korff W, Chandrashekar J, Lemire AL, Mensh B, Dudman JT, Nelson SB, Hantman AW
    Nature Neuroscience. 2019 Sep 16;22(11):1925-35. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0483-3

    The thalamus is the central communication hub of the forebrain and provides the cerebral cortex with inputs from sensory organs, subcortical systems and the cortex itself. Multiple thalamic regions send convergent information to each cortical region, but the organizational logic of thalamic projections has remained elusive. Through comprehensive transcriptional analyses of retrogradely labeled thalamic neurons in adult mice, we identify three major profiles of thalamic pathways. These profiles exist along a continuum that is repeated across all major projection systems, such as those for vision, motor control and cognition. The largest component of gene expression variation in the mouse thalamus is topographically organized, with features conserved in humans. Transcriptional differences between these thalamic neuronal identities are tied to cellular features that are critical for function, such as axonal morphology and membrane properties. Molecular profiling therefore reveals covariation in the properties of thalamic pathways serving all major input modalities and output targets, thus establishing a molecular framework for understanding the thalamus.

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    04/12/19 | Mapping the transcriptional diversity of genetically and anatomically defined cell populations in the mouse brain.
    Sugino K, Clark E, Schulmann A, Shima Y, Wang L, Hunt DL, Hooks BM, Traenkner D, Chandrashekar J, Picard S, Lemire AL, Spruston N, Hantman AW, Nelson SB
    Elife. 2019 Apr 12;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.38619

    Understanding the principles governing neuronal diversity is a fundamental goal for neuroscience. Here we provide an anatomical and transcriptomic database of nearly 200 genetically identified cell populations. By separately analyzing the robustness and pattern of expression differences across these cell populations, we identify two gene classes contributing distinctly to neuronal diversity. Short homeobox transcription factors distinguish neuronal populations combinatorially, and exhibit extremely low transcriptional noise, enabling highly robust expression differences. Long neuronal effector genes, such as channels and cell adhesion molecules, contribute disproportionately to neuronal diversity, based on their patterns rather than robustness of expression differences. By linking transcriptional identity to genetic strains and anatomical atlases we provide an extensive resource for further investigation of mouse neuronal cell types.

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    BACKGROUND: Epigenetic mechanisms play fundamental roles in brain function and behavior and stressors such as social isolation can alter animal behavior via epigenetic mechanisms. However, due to cellular heterogeneity, identifying cell-type-specific epigenetic changes in the brain is challenging. Here, we report the first use of a modified isolation of nuclei tagged in specific cell type (INTACT) method in behavioral epigenetics of Drosophila melanogaster, a method we call mini-INTACT.

    RESULTS: Using ChIP-seq on mini-INTACT purified dopaminergic nuclei, we identified epigenetic signatures in socially isolated and socially enriched Drosophila males. Social experience altered the epigenetic landscape in clusters of genes involved in transcription and neural function. Some of these alterations could be predicted by expression changes of four transcription factors and the prevalence of their binding sites in several clusters. These transcription factors were previously identified as activity-regulated genes, and their knockdown in dopaminergic neurons reduced the effects of social experience on sleep.

    CONCLUSIONS: Our work enables the use of Drosophila as a model for cell-type-specific behavioral epigenetics and establishes that social environment shifts the epigenetic landscape in dopaminergic neurons. Four activity-related transcription factors are required in dopaminergic neurons for the effects of social environment on sleep.

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    10/31/18 | Distinct descending motor cortex pathways and their roles in movement.
    Economo MN, Viswanathan S, Tasic B, Bas E, Winnubst J, Menon V, Graybuck LT, Nguyen TN, Smith KA, Yao Z, Wang L, Gerfen CR, Chandrashekar J, Zeng H, Looger LL, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7729):79-84. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0642-9

    Activity in the motor cortex predicts movements, seconds before they are initiated. This preparatory activity has been observed across cortical layers, including in descending pyramidal tract neurons in layer 5. A key question is how preparatory activity is maintained without causing movement, and is ultimately converted to a motor command to trigger appropriate movements. Here, using single-cell transcriptional profiling and axonal reconstructions, we identify two types of pyramidal tract neuron. Both types project to several targets in the basal ganglia and brainstem. One type projects to thalamic regions that connect back to motor cortex; populations of these neurons produced early preparatory activity that persisted until the movement was initiated. The second type projects to motor centres in the medulla and mainly produced late preparatory activity and motor commands. These results indicate that two types of motor cortex output neurons have specialized roles in motor control.

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