Two-photon microscopy is a key imaging technique in biological sciences because of its superior deep tissue imaging capabilities in addition to high transverse and axial resolution. In recent years, development of low-weight miniature two-photon microscopes has been of great interest for in vivo imaging of brain activity. Limited by these mechanical constraints, most of the developed miniature two-photon microscopes utilize graded index objective lenses that usually have inferior optical characteristics compared to conventional refractive objective lenses.
Dielectric metasurfaces, a recent category of diffractive optical elements with enhanced capabilities, have proven versatile in various applications ranging from lensing to holography and polarization control. Their ultrathin form factor and potentially extremely low-weight make them very attractive for applications with stringent size and weight constraints. However, despite their success in various types of microscopy and imaging applications, they have not been previously utilized for multi-photon fluorescence microscopy. The main barrier for using metasurface lenses in multi-photon microscopy arises from their large chromatic dispersion that effectively makes them single-wavelength. Here we will present a double-wavelength metasurface lens especially designed to have the same focal length at 820 and 605 nm, corresponding to the excitation and emission wavelengths of a certain fluorophore. After characterizing the poly-silicon metasurface lens at both wavelengths, we used it in a two-photon microscopy setup and demonstrated its capability to capture two-photon images qualitatively similar to images taken with a conventional objective lens. We will also discuss the effects of chromatic dispersion of the metasurface lens on its two-photon imaging performance.
The problem of optical scattering was long thought to fundamentally limit the depth at which light could be focused through turbid media such as fog or biological tissue. However, recent work in the field of wavefront shaping has demonstrated that by properly shaping the input light field, light can be noninvasively focused to desired locations deep inside scattering media. This has led to the development of several new techniques which have the potential to enhance the capabilities of existing optical tools in biomedicine. Unfortunately, extending these methods to living tissue has a number of challenges related to the requirements for noninvasive guidestar operation, speed, and focusing fidelity. Of existing wavefront shaping methods, time-reversed ultrasonically encoded (TRUE) focusing is well suited for applications in living tissue since it uses ultrasound as a guidestar which enables noninvasive operation and provides compatibility with optical phase conjugation for high-speed operation. In this paper, we will discuss the results of our recent work to apply TRUE focusing for optogenetic modulation, which enables enhanced optogenetic stimulation deep in tissue with a 4-fold spatial resolution improvement in 800-micron thick acute brain slices compared to conventional focusing, and summarize future directions to further extend the impact of wavefront shaping technologies in biomedicine.
Over the past years we have worked on:
(1) Viral-based approaches to non-invasive whole-brain cargo delivery: Genetically-encoded tools that can be used to visualize, monitor, and modulate mammalian neurons are revolutionizing neuroscience. These tools are particularly powerful in rodents and invertebrate models where intersectional transgenic strategies are available to restrict their expression to defined cell populations. However, use of genetic tools in non-transgenic animals is often hindered by the lack of vectors capable of safe, efficient, and specific delivery to the desired cellular targets. To begin to address these challenges, we have developed an in vivo Cre-based selection platform (CREATE) for identifying adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) that more efficiently transduce genetically defined cell populations. Our platform's novelty and power arises from the additional selective pressure imparted by a recovery step that amplifies only those capsid variants that have functionally transduced a genetically-defined, Cre-expressing target cell population. The Cre-dependent capsid recovery works within heterogeneous tissue samples without the need for additional steps such as selective capsid recovery approaches that require cell sorting or secondary adenovirus infection. As a first test of the CREATE platform, we selected for viruses that transduced the brain after intravascular delivery and found a novel vector, AAV-PHP.B, that is 40- to 90-fold more efficient at transducing the brain than the current standard, AAV9. AAV-PHP.B transduces most neuronal types and glia across the brain. We also demonstrate here how whole-body tissue clearing can facilitate transduction maps of systemically delivered genes. Since CNS disorders are notoriously challenging due to the restrictive nature of the blood brain barrier our discovery that recombinant vectors can be engineered to overcome this barrier is enabling for the whole field. With the exciting advances in gene editing via the CRISPR-Cas, RNA interference and gene replacement strategies, the availability of potent gene delivery methods provided by vectors such as our reported AAV-PHP.B is key to advancing the field of genome engineering.
• Deverman BE, Pravdo P, Simpson B, Banerjee A, Kumar, S.R., Chan K, Wu WL, Yang B, Gradinaru V. Cre-Dependent Capsid Selection Yields AAVs for Global Gene Transfer to the Adult Brain. Nature Biotechnol. 2016 Feb 34(2):204-9. PMID: 26829320
• Yang B, Treweek JB, Kulkarni RP, Deverman BE, Chen CK, Lubeck E, Shah S, Cai L, Gradinaru V. Single-cell phenotyping within transparent intact tissue through whole-body clearing. Cell. 2014 Aug 14;158(4):945-58. PMCID: PMC4153367.
(2) The mesopontine tegmentum, including the pedunculopontine and laterodorsal tegmental nuclei (PPN and LDT), provides major cholinergic inputs to midbrain and regulates locomotion and reward. To delineate the underlying projection-specific circuit mechanisms, we employed optogenetics to control mesopontine cholinergic neurons at somata and at divergent projections within distinct midbrain areas. Bidirectional manipulation of PPN cholinergic cell bodies exerted opposing effects on locomotor behavior and reinforcement learning. These motor and reward effects were separable via limiting photostimulation to PPN cholinergic terminals in the ventral substantia nigra pars compacta (vSNc) or to the ventral tegmental area (VTA), respectively. LDT cholinergic neurons also form connections with vSNc and VTA neurons; however, although photo-excitation of LDT cholinergic terminals in the VTA caused positive reinforcement, LDT-to-vSNc modulation did not alter locomotion or reward. Therefore, the selective targeting of projection-specific mesopontine cholinergic pathways may offer increased benefit in treating movement and addiction disorders.
• Xiao C, Cho JR, Zhou C, Treweek BJ, Chan K, McKinney SL, Yang B, and Gradinaru V. Cholinergic Mesopontine Signals Govern Locomotion and Reward Through Dissociable Midbrain Pathways. Neuron 2016 Apr 20;90(2)33-47. PMCID: PMC4840478