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RecV recombinase system for in vivo targeted optogenomic modifications of single cells or cell populations

By Shenqin Yao, Peng Yuan, Ben Ouellette, Thomas Zhou, Marty Mortrud, Pooja Balaram, Soumya Chatterjee, Yun Wang, Tanya Daigle, Bosiljka Tasic, Xiuli Kuang, Hui Gong, Qingming Luo, Shaoqun Zeng, Andrew Curtright, Ajay Dhaka, Anat Kahan, Viviana Gradinaru, Radosław Chrapkiewicz, Mark Schnitzer, Hongkui Zeng, Ali Cetin

Posted 18 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/553271

Brain circuits are composed of vast numbers of intricately interconnected neurons with diverse molecular, anatomical and physiological properties. To allow highly specific “user-defined” targeting of individual neurons for structural and functional studies, we modified three site-specific DNA recombinases, Cre, Dre and Flp, by combining them with a fungal light-inducible protein, Vivid, to create light-inducible recombinases (named RecV). We generated viral vectors to express these light-inducible recombinases and demonstrated that they can induce genomic modifications in dense or sparse populations of neurons in superficial as well as deep brain areas of live mouse brains by one-photon or two-photon light induction. These light-inducible recombinases can produce highly targeted, sparse and strong labeling of individual neurons in multiple loci and species. They can be used in combination with other genetic strategies to achieve specific intersectional targeting of mouse cortical layer 5 or inhibitory somatostatin neurons. In mouse cortex sparse light-induced recombination allows whole-brain morphological reconstructions to identify axonal projection specificity. Furthermore these enzymes allow single cell targeted genetic modifications via soma restricted two-photon light stimulation in individual cortical neurons and can be used in combination with functional optical indicators with minimal interference. In summary, RecVs enable spatiotemporally-precise, targeted optogenomic modifications that could greatly facilitate detailed analysis of neural circuits at the single cell level by linking genetic identity, morphology, connectivity and function.

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