Karoline is starting her PhD project

We have a new PhD student! Karoline Friedl has been in the lab since March, through our partnership with the startup Abbelight.

She just now started her PhD project as a CIFRE PhD in the NeuroCyto team, in collaboration with Abbelight. She will work on Abbelight’s SAFe 360 module to develop innovative and robust multicolor nansocale imaging approaches – can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Just out: commentary on how ß2-spectrin drives axonal transport

Christophe just published a commentary about the latest article from Damaris Lorenzo and Van Bennet’s labs in PNAS. This work shows how ß2-spectrin is not only a crucial component of the periodic actin/spectrin scaffold along axons, but also directly participates in axonal transport by associating with intra-axonal vesicles.

Check it out in more details here:
Leterrier C, A dual role for βII-spectrin in axons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019 Jul 30;116(31):15324-15326. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909789116

Utrecht Summer School

Christophe gave a course as part of the 2019 edition of the Utrecht Summer School on Neuronal Circuits Development and Plasticity. In addition to the course, there was an opportunity to discuss with the students in small groups about our science but also careers and how open science is changing the landscape – the future scientists are full of ideas and motivation!

pic courtesy of @KapiteinLukas

Talk at INMED and Imaging Symposium at INT

Two visits to our neighbors at the begining of July: on July 1st, Christophe was invited by Jean-Bernard Manent to give a talk at the Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méditerranée (INMED) in Luminy. An exciting day in the artful institute, exchanging ideas with great scientists and colleagues!

On July 11th, Christophe was part of the “Advanced Photonic Imaging in Neuroscience” (APIN) symposium organized by our next-door neighbors at the Institut des Neurosciences de la Timone (INT). The symposium was filled with incredible talks showing how deeper, faster and more functional imaging are crucial to today’s neuroscience. Congrats to Ivo Vanzetta, Franck Debarbieux and Nicolas Wanaverbecq for organizing such a great event.

We’ve moved!

The Neurophysiopathology Institute, the INP we’re part of, has moved to its new headquarters on the Timone Campus of the Medicine School. It was a lot of work but everything went well and we’re almost ready to science again! Our renovated floor in the historic Medicine School building now hosts the lab and the Neuro-Cellular Imaging Service (NCIS), the new imaging facility of INP.

Cytomorpho lab 10-year anniversary retreat

Christophe was at the 10-year anniversary retreat of the Cytomorpho lab right in front of the sea in Les Goudes, Marseille. Thanks for the invitation Manuel and Laurent, it was great discussing with actin and microtubules specialists, and hearing the various paths taken by the lab alumni.

A great place to hear about a great lab

The NeuroCyto lab at NeuroFrance, French neuroscience meeting

Marseille hosted the 2019 French neuroscience meeting from May 22 to May 24. The INP institute was present with numerous talks and posters showcasing the work of our labs (see here for a complete list). The NeuroCyto team was of course there, with Dominic presenting his first poster on the role of presynaptic actin, as well as a talk from Christophe on the ultrastructure of axonal actin rings that he also presented the day before at the satellite meeting on the spinal chord .

Christophe’s talk (photo @NeuroGirl17)

New preprint: the ultrastructure of the axonal actin rings revealed!

An exciting project from the lab is now out on bioRxiv. This is a collaboration with electron microscopy guru Stéphane Vassilopoulos from the Myologie Institute in Paris. One of the most striking discovery of super-resolution microscopy so far has been the periodic actin/spectrin scaffold along axons, with actin rings spaced every 190 nm by spectrin tetramers. Since its discovery in 2013, a number of labs, including ours, have used various super-resolution microscopy techniques (SMLM, SIM, STED) to refine our knowledge about this structure. However, actin rings and the axonal periodic scaffold had not been observed by EM until now.

Actin rings and the axonal periodic scaffold (adapted from Papandréou & Leterrier, 2018)

Using mechanical unroofing and platinum-replica electron microscopy (PREM), we were able to visualize the axonal actin rings regularly spaced under the exposed plasma membrane of axons, and to determine their ultrastructure and molecular organization. And we had a big surprise: the actin rings are not made of short, capped actin filaments as it was assumed since their discovery, by analogy with actin inside the erythrocyte submembrane cytoskeleton. Instead, they are braids made of two long (~0.5 to 1 µm) actin filaments!

The regularly-spaced actin “braids” (magenta) as seen along axons by platinum-replica electron microscopy
The actin braids in 3D

These actin braids are connected by a dense mesh of spectrins, which we unambiguously identified using immunogold labeling and PREM. Moreover, we probed the stability of the axonal periodic scaffold using actin-targeting drugs, and found similar results by super-resolution and electron microscopy. Finally, we directly demonstrated the identity and organization of the scaffold components (actin, spectrins) by performing correlative SMLM/PREM, visualizing the same sample by super-resolution and electron microscopy.

Correlative SMLM and PREM to visualize actin rings

It was a great pleasure to work with Stéphane! The project benefited from the magic unroofing touch of our Master 2 student Solène, and from important ground work by Angélique and Ghislaine from the team. To read more, please see our bioRxiv preprint and let us know what you think!

Fluorescence Microscopy Workshop at Institut Pasteur

Christophe spoke at the Fluorescence Microscopy Workshop IV on cutting-edge technologies at Institut Pasteur on May 13. A nice day devoted to super-resolution microscopy with academic speakers mixed with technological presentation from companies. The workshop continued for the whole week with the possibility to test various microscopes, such as the new N-SIM S fast structured illumination microscopy from Nikon.

The actin braids! (see our preprint, photo @Nicolas26538817)
Actin and spectrin bands along an axon seen by SIM (left) but not by diffraction-limited fluorescence (right) – Images from the Nikon N-SIM S