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Learn Mem. 2000 Nov-Dec;7(6):433-41.

Imaging high-resolution structure of GFP-expressing neurons in neocortex in vivo.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


To detect subtle changes in neuronal morphology in response to changes in experience, one must image neurons at high resolution in vivo over time scales of minutes to days. We accomplished this by infecting postmitotic neurons in rat and mouse barrel cortex with a Sindbis virus carrying the gene for enhanced green fluorescent protein. Visualized with 2-photon excitation laser scanning microscopy, infected neurons showed bright fluorescence that was distributed homogeneously throughout the cell, including axonal and dendritic arbors. Single dendritic spines could routinely be resolved and their morphological dynamics visualized. Viral infection and imaging were achieved throughout postnatal development up to early adulthood (P 8-30), although the viral efficiency of infection decreased with age. This relatively noninvasive method for fluorescent labeling and imaging of neurons allows the study of morphological dynamics of neocortical neurons and their circuits in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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