In Vivo Two-photon Calcium Imaging in Dendrites of Rabies Virus-labeled V1 Corticothalamic Neurons

  • Yajie Tang
  • Liang Li
  • Leqiang Sun
  • Jinsong Yu
  • Zhe Hu
  • Kaiqi Lian
  • Gang Cao
  • Jinxia DaiEmail author


Monitoring neuronal activity in vivo is critical to understanding the physiological or pathological functions of the brain. Two-photon Ca2+ imaging in vivo using a cranial window and specific neuronal labeling enables real-time, in situ, and long-term imaging of the living brain. Here, we constructed a recombinant rabies virus containing the Ca2+ indicator GCaMP6s along with the fluorescent protein DsRed2 as a baseline reference to ensure GCaMP6s signal reliability. This functional tracer was applied to retrogradely label specific V1–thalamus circuits and detect spontaneous Ca2+ activity in the dendrites of V1 corticothalamic neurons by in vivo two-photon Ca2+ imaging. Notably, we were able to record single-spine spontaneous Ca2+ activity in specific circuits. Distinct spontaneous Ca2+ dynamics in dendrites of V1 corticothalamic neurons were found for different V1–thalamus circuits. Our method can be applied to monitor Ca2+ dynamics in specific input circuits in vivo, and contribute to functional studies of defined neural circuits and the dissection of functional circuit connections.


In vivo Ca2+ imaging Cranial window Two-photon microscopy Rabies virus Dendrite Primary visual cortex Corticothalamic projection Neural circuit tracing 



We thank Dr. Fuqiang Xu (Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics, Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Dr. Edward Callaway (The SALK Institute, USA) for the rRV packing system. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31700934 and 31371106).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yajie Tang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Liang Li
    • 2
    • 3
  • Leqiang Sun
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jinsong Yu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zhe Hu
    • 2
  • Kaiqi Lian
    • 1
  • Gang Cao
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jinxia Dai
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Academician Workstation of Animal Disease Control and Nutrition Immunity in Henan Province, Henan Joint International Research Laboratory of Veterinary Biologics Research and ApplicationAnyang Institute of TechnologyAnyangChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Agricultural MicrobiologyHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.College of Veterinary MedicineHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  4. 4.Biomedical CenterHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Development of Veterinary Diagnostic Products, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Veterinary MedicineHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina

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