Jana F Liewald

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany

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Publications (13)126.69 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In recent years, optogenetic methods became invaluable tools, particularly in neurobiological research. Most prominently, optogenetic methods utilize microbial rhodopsins to elicit neuronal de- or hyperpolarization. However, other optogenetic tools have emerged that allow influencing neuronal function by different approaches. In this chapter we describe the use of photoactivated adenylyl cyclases (PACs) as modulators of neuronal activity. Using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism, this chapter shows how to measure the effect of PAC photoactivation by behavioral and electrophysiological assays, as well as their significance to neurobiology.
    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2014; 1148:161-75. · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Local recycling of synaptic vesicles (SVs) allows neurons to sustain transmitter release. Extreme activity (e.g., during seizure) may exhaust synaptic transmission and, in vitro, induces bulk endocytosis to recover SV membrane and proteins; how this occurs in animals is unknown. Following optogenetic hyperstimulation of Caenorhabditis elegans motoneurons, we analyzed synaptic recovery by time-resolved behavioral, electrophysiological, and ultrastructural assays. Recovery of docked SVs and of evoked-release amplitudes (indicating readily-releasable pool refilling) occurred within ∼8-20 s (τ = 9.2 s and τ = 11.9 s), whereas locomotion recovered only after ∼60 s (τ = 20 s). During ∼11-s stimulation, 50- to 200-nm noncoated vesicles ("100nm vesicles") formed, which disappeared ∼8 s poststimulation, likely representing endocytic intermediates from which SVs may regenerate. In endophilin, synaptojanin, and dynamin mutants, affecting endocytosis and vesicle scission, resolving 100nm vesicles was delayed (>20 s). In dynamin mutants, 100nm vesicles were abundant and persistent, sometimes continuous with the plasma membrane; incomplete budding of smaller vesicles from 100nm vesicles further implicates dynamin in regenerating SVs from bulk-endocytosed vesicles. Synaptic recovery after exhaustive activity is slow, and different time scales of recovery at ultrastructural, physiological, and behavioral levels indicate multiple contributing processes. Similar processes may jointly account for slow recovery from acute seizures also in higher animals.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurons secrete neuropeptides from dense core vesicles (DCVs) to modulate neuronal activity. Little is known about how neurons manage to differentially regulate the release of synaptic vesicles (SVs) and DCVs. To analyze this, we screened all Caenorhabditis elegans Rab GTPases and Tre2/Bub2/Cdc16 (TBC) domain containing GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) for defects in DCV release from C. elegans motoneurons. rab-5 and rab-10 mutants show severe defects in DCV secretion, whereas SV exocytosis is unaffected. We identified TBC-2 and TBC-4 as putative GAPs for RAB-5 and RAB-10, respectively. Multiple Rabs and RabGAPs are typically organized in cascades that confer directionality to membrane-trafficking processes. We show here that the formation of release-competent DCVs requires a reciprocal exclusion cascade coupling RAB-5 and RAB-10, in which each of the two Rabs recruits the other's GAP molecule. This contributes to a separation of RAB-5 and RAB-10 domains at the Golgi-endosomal interface, which is lost when either of the two GAPs is inactivated. Taken together, our data suggest that RAB-5 and RAB-10 cooperate to locally exclude each other at an essential stage during DCV sorting.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2012; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Essentially any behavior in simple and complex animals depends on neuronal network function. Currently, the best-defined system to study neuronal circuits is the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, as the connectivity of its 302 neurons is exactly known. Individual neurons can be activated by photostimulation of Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) using blue light, allowing to directly probe the importance of a particular neuron for the respective behavioral output of the network under study. In analogy, other excitable cells can be inhibited by expressing Halorhodopsin from Natronomonas pharaonis (NpHR) and subsequent illumination with yellow light. However, inhibiting C. elegans neurons using NpHR is difficult. Recently, proton pumps from various sources were established as valuable alternative hyperpolarizers. Here we show that archaerhodopsin-3 (Arch) from Halorubrum sodomense and a proton pump from the fungus Leptosphaeria maculans (Mac) can be utilized to effectively inhibit excitable cells in C. elegans. Arch is the most powerful hyperpolarizer when illuminated with yellow or green light while the action spectrum of Mac is more blue-shifted, as analyzed by light-evoked behaviors and electrophysiology. This allows these tools to be combined in various ways with ChR2 to analyze different subsets of neurons within a circuit. We exemplify this by means of the polymodal aversive sensory ASH neurons, and the downstream command interneurons to which ASH neurons signal to trigger a reversal followed by a directional turn. Photostimulating ASH and subsequently inhibiting command interneurons using two-color illumination of different body segments, allows investigating temporal aspects of signaling downstream of ASH.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e40937. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Optogenetic approaches using light-activated proteins like Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) enable investigating the function of populations of neurons in live Caenorhabditis elegans (and other) animals, as ChR2 expression can be targeted to these cells using specific promoters. Sub-populations of these neurons, or even single cells, can be further addressed by restricting the illumination to the cell of interest. However, this is technically demanding, particularly in free moving animals. Thus, it would be helpful if expression of ChR2 could be restricted to single neurons or neuron pairs, as even wide-field illumination would photostimulate only this particular cell. To this end we adopted the use of Cre or FLP recombinases and conditional ChR2 expression at the intersection of two promoter expression domains, i.e. in the cell of interest only. Success of this method depends on precise knowledge of the individual promoters' expression patterns and on relative expression levels of recombinase and ChR2. A bicistronic expression cassette with GFP helps to identify the correct expression pattern. Here we show specific expression in the AVA reverse command neurons and the aversive polymodal sensory ASH neurons. This approach shall enable to generate strains for optogenetic manipulation of each of the 302 C. elegans neurons. This may eventually allow to model the C. elegans nervous system in its entirety, based on functional data for each neuron.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(8):e43164. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the nervous system, a perfect balance of excitation and inhibition is required, for example, to enable coordinated locomotion. In Caenorhabditis elegans, cholinergic and GABAergic motor neurons (MNs) effect waves of contralateral muscle contraction and relaxation. Cholinergic MNs innervate muscle as well as GABAergic MNs, projecting to the opposite side of the body, at dyadic synapses. Only a few connections exist from GABAergic to cholinergic MNs, emphasizing that GABA signaling is mainly directed toward muscle. Yet, a GABA(B) receptor comprising GBB-1 and GBB-2 subunits, expressed in cholinergic MNs, was shown to affect locomotion, likely by feedback inhibition of cholinergic MNs in response to spillover GABA. In the present study, we examined whether the GBB-1/2 receptor could also affect short-term plasticity in cholinergic MNs with the use of channelrhodopsin-2-mediated photostimulation of GABAergic and cholinergic neurons. The GBB-1/2 receptor contributes to acute body relaxation, evoked by photoactivation of GABAergic MNs, and to effects of GABA on locomotion behavior. Loss of the plasma membrane GABA transporter SNF-11, as well as acute photoevoked GABA release, affected cholinergic MN function in opposite directions. Prolonged stimulation of GABA MNs had subtle effects on cholinergic MNs, depending on stimulus duration and gbb-2. Thus GBB-1/2 receptors serve mainly for linear feedback inhibition of cholinergic MNs but also evoke minor plastic changes.
    Journal of Neurophysiology 05/2011; 106(2):817-27. · 3.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Photoactivated adenylyl cyclase α (PACα) was originally isolated from the flagellate Euglena gracilis. Following stimulation by blue light it causes a rapid increase in cAMP levels. In the present study, we expressed PACα in cholinergic neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans. Photoactivation led to a rise in swimming frequency, speed of locomotion, and a decrease in the number of backward locomotion episodes. The extent of the light-induced behavioral effects was dependent on the amount of PACα that was expressed. Furthermore, electrophysiological recordings from body wall muscle cells revealed an increase in miniature post-synaptic currents during light stimulation. We conclude that the observed effects were caused by cAMP synthesis because of photoactivation of pre-synaptic PACα which subsequently triggered acetylcholine release at the neuromuscular junction. Our results demonstrate that PACα can be used as an optogenetic tool in C. elegans for straightforward in vivo manipulation of intracellular cAMP levels by light, with good temporal control and high cell specificity. Thus, using PACα allows manipulation of neurotransmitter release and behavior by directly affecting intracellular signaling.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 02/2011; 116(4):616-25. · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) is widely used for rapid photodepolarization of neurons, yet, as it requires high-intensity blue light for activation, it is not suited for long-term in vivo applications, e.g. for manipulations of behavior, or photoactivation of neurons during development. We used "slow" ChR2 variants with mutations in the C128 residue, that exhibit delayed off-kinetics and increased light sensitivity in Caenorhabditis elegans. Following a 1 s light pulse, we could photodepolarize neurons and muscles for minutes (and with repeated brief stimulation, up to days) with low-intensity light. Photoactivation of ChR2(C128S) in command interneurons elicited long-lasting alterations in locomotion. Finally, we could optically induce profound changes in animal development: Long-term photoactivation of ASJ neurons, which regulate larval growth, bypassed the constitutive entry into the "dauer" larval state in daf-11 mutants. These lack a guanylyl cyclase, which possibly renders ASJ neurons hyperpolarized. Furthermore, photostimulated ASJ neurons could acutely trigger dauer-exit. Thus, slow ChR2s can be employed to long-term photoactivate behavior and to trigger alternative animal development.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e18766. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are homo- or heteropentameric ligand-gated ion channels mediating excitatory neurotransmission and muscle activation. Regulation of nAChR subunit assembly and transfer of correctly assembled pentamers to the cell surface is only partially understood. Here, we characterize an ER transmembrane (TM) protein complex that influences nAChR cell-surface expression and functional properties in Caenorhabditis elegans muscle. Loss of either type I TM protein, NRA-2 or NRA-4 (nicotinic receptor associated), affects two different types of muscle nAChRs and causes in vivo resistance to cholinergic agonists. Sensitivity to subtype-specific agonists of these nAChRs is altered differently, as demonstrated by whole-cell voltage-clamp of dissected adult muscle, when applying exogenous agonists or after photo-evoked, channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) mediated acetylcholine (ACh) release, as well as in single-channel recordings in cultured embryonic muscle. These data suggest that nAChRs desensitize faster in nra-2 mutants. Cell-surface expression of different subunits of the 'levamisole-sensitive' nAChR (L-AChR) is differentially affected in the absence of NRA-2 or NRA-4, suggesting that they control nAChR subunit composition or allow only certain receptor assemblies to leave the ER.
    The EMBO Journal 08/2009; 28(17):2636-49. · 9.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RIC-3 belongs to a conserved family of proteins influencing nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) maturation. RIC-3 proteins are integral membrane proteins residing in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and containing a C-terminal coiled-coil domain (CC-I). Conservation of CC-I in all RIC-3 family members indicates its importance; however, previous studies could not show its function. To examine the role of CC-I, we studied effects of its deletion on Caenorhabditis elegans nAChRs in vivo. Presence of CC-I promoted maturation of particular nAChRs expressed in body-wall muscle, whereas it was not required for other nAChR subtypes expressed in neurons or pharyngeal muscles. This effect is receptor-specific, because it could be reproduced after heterologous expression. Consistently, coimmunoprecipitation analysis showed that CC-I enhances the interaction of RIC-3 with a nAChR that requires CC-I in vivo; thus CC-I appears to enhance affinity of RIC-3 to specific nAChRs. However, we found that this function of CC-I is redundant with functions of sequences downstream to CC-I, potentially a second coiled-coil. Alternative splicing in both vertebrates and invertebrates generates RIC-3 transcripts that lack the entire C-terminus, or only CC-I. Thus, our results suggest that RIC-3 alternative splicing enables subtype specific regulation of nAChR maturation.
    Molecular biology of the cell 01/2009; 20(5):1419-27. · 5.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We introduce optogenetic investigation of neurotransmission (OptIoN) for time-resolved and quantitative assessment of synaptic function via behavioral and electrophysiological analyses. We photo-triggered release of acetylcholine or gamma-aminobutyric acid at Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junctions using targeted expression of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii Channelrhodopsin-2. In intact Channelrhodopsin-2 transgenic worms, photostimulation instantly induced body elongation (for gamma-aminobutyric acid) or contraction (for acetylcholine), which we analyzed acutely, or during sustained activation with automated image analysis, to assess synaptic efficacy. In dissected worms, photostimulation evoked neurotransmitter-specific postsynaptic currents that could be triggered repeatedly and at various frequencies. Light-evoked behaviors and postsynaptic currents were significantly (P <or= 0.05) altered in mutants with pre- or postsynaptic defects, although the behavioral phenotypes did not unambiguously report on synaptic function in all cases tested. OptIoN facilitates the analysis of neurotransmission with high temporal precision, in a neurotransmitter-selective manner, possibly allowing future investigation of synaptic plasticity in C. elegans.
    Nature Methods 09/2008; 5(10):895-902. · 23.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Our understanding of the cellular implementation of systems-level neural processes like action, thought and emotion has been limited by the availability of tools to interrogate specific classes of neural cells within intact, living brain tissue. Here we identify and develop an archaeal light-driven chloride pump (NpHR) from Natronomonas pharaonis for temporally precise optical inhibition of neural activity. NpHR allows either knockout of single action potentials, or sustained blockade of spiking. NpHR is compatible with ChR2, the previous optical excitation technology we have described, in that the two opposing probes operate at similar light powers but with well-separated action spectra. NpHR, like ChR2, functions in mammals without exogenous cofactors, and the two probes can be integrated with calcium imaging in mammalian brain tissue for bidirectional optical modulation and readout of neural activity. Likewise, NpHR and ChR2 can be targeted together to Caenorhabditis elegans muscle and cholinergic motor neurons to control locomotion bidirectionally. NpHR and ChR2 form a complete system for multimodal, high-speed, genetically targeted, all-optical interrogation of living neural circuits.
    Nature 05/2007; 446(7136):633-9. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For studying the function of specific neurons in their native circuitry, it is desired to precisely control their activity. This often requires dissection to allow accurate electrical stimulation or neurotransmitter application , and it is thus inherently difficult in live animals, especially in small model organisms. Here, we employed channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), a directly light-gated cation channel from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, in excitable cells of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, to trigger specific behaviors, simply by illumination. Channelrhodopsins are 7-transmembrane-helix proteins that resemble the light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin , and they also utilize the chromophore all-trans retinal, but to open an intrinsic cation pore. In muscle cells, light-activated ChR2 evoked strong, simultaneous contractions, which were reduced in the background of mutated L-type, voltage-gated Ca2+-channels (VGCCs) and ryanodine receptors (RyRs). Electrophysiological analysis demonstrated rapid inward currents that persisted as long as the illumination. When ChR2 was expressed in mechanosensory neurons, light evoked withdrawal behaviors that are normally elicited by mechanical stimulation. Furthermore, ChR2 enabled activity of these neurons in mutants lacking the MEC-4/MEC-10 mechanosensory ion channel . Thus, specific neurons or muscles expressing ChR2 can be quickly and reversibly activated by light in live and behaving, as well as dissected, animals.
    Current Biology 01/2006; 15(24):2279-84. · 9.49 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

974 Citations
126.69 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
      Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany
  • 2006–2012
    • Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
      • • Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (BMLS)
      • • Institut für Biochemie
      Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany
    • Max Planck Institute of Biophysics
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany