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Prog Neurobiol. 2001 Apr;63(6):673-86.

Using reporter genes to label selected neuronal populations in transgenic mice for gene promoter, anatomical, and physiological studies.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Jahnstrasse 29, 69120, Heidelberg, Germany.


This review summarizes recent work on the use of reporter genes to label selected neuronal populations in transgenic mice, with particular emphasis on gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons. Reporter genes discussed are the lacZ, green fluorescent protein (GFP), luc, and bla genes, which encode the reporter proteins beta-galactosidase, GFP, luciferase, and beta-lactamase, respectively. Targeted transgenic expression of these reporter proteins is obtained by fusing the corresponding reporter gene, with or without a subcellular localization signal, to a cell type- or brain region-specific gene promoter. Mice carrying GnRH promoter-driven reporter genes have proven useful for revealing the promoter elements required for cell type-specific expression of GnRH, the full anatomical profile of the GnRH neuronal network, and its electrophysiological activity, suggesting that similar approaches will assist in elucidating the properties of other neuronal populations as well.

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