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Chronic Ca2+ imaging of cortical neurons with long-term expression of GCaMP-X

By Jinli Geng, Wenxiang Li, Yingjun Tang, Yunming Gao, Yitong Lu, Ping Li, Xiaomei Li, Ping Wang, Yubo Fan, Yaxiong Yang, Zengcai Guo, Xiaodong Liu

Posted 11 Jan 2022
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.09.475579

Dynamic Ca2+ signals reflect acute changes in membrane excitability (e.g. sensory response), and also mediate intracellular signaling cascades normally of longer time scales (e.g., Ca2+- dependent neuritogenesis). In both cases, chronic Ca2+ imaging has been often desired, but largely hindered by unexpected cytotoxicity intrinsic to GCaMP, a popular series of genetically-encoded Ca2+ indicators. Here, we demonstrate that the recently developed GCaMP-X outperforms GCaMP in long-term probe expression and/or chronic Ca2+ imaging. GCaMP-X shows much improved compatibility with neurons and thus more reliable than GCaMP as demonstrated in vivo by acute Ca2+ responses to whisker deflection or spontaneous Ca2+ fluctuations over an extended time frame. Chronic Ca2+ imaging data ([≥]1 month) are acquired from the same set of cultured cortical neurons, unveiling that spontaneous/local Ca2+ activities would progressively develop into autonomous/global Ca2+ oscillations. Besides the morphological indices of neurite length or soma size, the major metrics of oscillatory Ca2+, including rate, amplitude, synchrony among different neurons or organelles have also been examined along with the developmental stages. Both neuritogenesis and Ca2+ signals are dysregulated by GCaMP in virus-infected or transgenic neurons, in direct contrast to GCaMP-X without any noticeable side-effect. Such in vitro data altogether consolidate the unique importance of oscillatory Ca2+ to activity-dependent neuritogenesis, as one major factor responsible for the distinctions between GCaMP vs GCaMP-X in vivo. For the first time with GCaMP-X of long-term expression in neurons, spontaneous and sensory-evoked Ca2+ activities are imaged and evaluated both in vitro and in vivo, providing new opportunities to monitor neural development or other chronic processes concurrently with Ca2+ dynamics.

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