Note in Science page
Created Nov 04 07, Updated Nov 21 07 20:28
Technicolor NeuroImaging go to comments

Advances in fluorescent gene reporting: Brain’s wiring seen in Technicolor

Researchers have developed a technique that will allow neurobiologists to draw a detailed wiring plan of the mammalian brain by inserting genes coding for fluorescent proteins into mice. Dubbed ‘Brainbow’, the system reveals individual neurons within the nervous system in up to 90 different colours.


from rsc.org (copyright Nature magazine)

The researchers inserted into mice a construct targeted (Cre/Lox system) to the central nervous system, with genes coding for 4 fluorescent protein emmiting ‘primary’ colours (red, yellow, cyan and orange) organized so that, randomly, only one of the genes are expressed per insertion. Depending on the number and ‘color’ of insertions (combinatorial expression), distinct cells will show distinct hues. Colours show how cells intertwine.

The research is showing the brain as we have never seen it before. This technique will allow neurobiologist to track changes in the neural circuitry up to the individual cell level; it could be also used to monitor the effects of therapies on the neural wiring, and more generally to (more precisely and easily) track tissue organisation changes in model organisms.

The transgenic mice and necessary research tools are now available for other scientists to use. The researchers plan to create transgenic fish, insects and nematode worms (C. elegans) using similar techniques.

rcs.org chemistryworld link
Nature news link
sciencefriday link [with video and bigger picts]

J Livet et al, Nature, 2007, 450, 56 [DOI:10.1038/nature06293]


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