Dual Anterograde and Retrograde Viral Tracing of Reciprocal Connectivity
Current large-scale approaches in neuroscience aim to unravel the complete connectivity map of specific neuronal circuits, or even the entire brain. This emerging research discipline has been termed connectomics. Recombinant glycoprotein-deleted rabies virus (RABV ∆G) has become an important tool for the investigation of neuronal connectivity in the brains of a variety of species. Neuronal infection with even a single RABV ∆G particle results in high-level transgene expression, revealing the fine-detailed morphology of all neuronal features—including dendritic spines, axonal processes, and boutons—on a brain-wide scale. This labeling is eminently suitable for subsequent post-hoc morphological analysis, such as semiautomated reconstruction in 3D. Here we describe the use of a recently developed anterograde RABV ∆G variant together with a retrograde RABV ∆G for the investigation of projections both to, and from, a particular brain region. In addition to the automated reconstruction of a dendritic tree, we also give as an example the volume measurements of axonal boutons following RABV ∆G-mediated fluorescent marker expression. In conclusion RABV ∆G variants expressing a combination of markers and/or tools for stimulating/monitoring neuronal activity, used together with genetic or behavioral animal models, promise important insights in the structure–function relationship of neural circuits.
Key wordsConnectome Neural circuits Sparse labeling Pseudotyping Axonal arbor Dendritic spines Projections Rabies virus Neuroanatomy
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