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Single-Cell RT-PCR, a Technique to Decipher the Electrical, Anatomical, and Genetic Determinants of Neuronal Diversity

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Patch-Clamp Methods and Protocols

Part of the book series: Methods in Molecular Biology ((MIMB,volume 1183))


The patch-clamp technique has allowed for detailed studies on the electrical properties of neurons. Dye loading through patch pipettes enabled characterizing the morphological properties of the neurons. In addition, the patch-clamp technique also allows for harvesting mRNA from single cells to study gene expression at the single cell level (known as single-cell RT-PCR). The combination of these three approaches makes possible the study of the GEM profile of neurons (gene expression, electrophysiology, and morphology) using a single patch pipette and patch-clamp recording. This combination provides a powerful technique to investigate and correlate the neuron’s gene expression with its phenotype (electrical behavior and morphology). The harvesting and amplification of single cell mRNA for gene expression studies is a challenging task, especially for researchers with sparse or no training in molecular biology (see Notes 1,2 and 5). Here we describe in detail the GEM profiling approach with special attention to the gene expression profiling.

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The authors would like to thank the late Prof. Phil Goodman for helpful insights on the statistical approaches to the single-cell RT-PCR data analysis. We would like to thank Shaoling Ma, Claudia Herzberg, Raya Eilam, and Tal Hetzroni for their technical assistance and Dr Jesper Ryger for his useful comments. This work was supported by the National Alliance for Autism Research and a European Union grant.

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Correspondence to Maria Toledo-Rodriguez .

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Toledo-Rodriguez, M., Markram, H. (2014). Single-Cell RT-PCR, a Technique to Decipher the Electrical, Anatomical, and Genetic Determinants of Neuronal Diversity. In: Martina, M., Taverna, S. (eds) Patch-Clamp Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 1183. Humana Press, New York, NY.

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  • Publisher Name: Humana Press, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4939-1095-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4939-1096-0

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