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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2004 Oct;14(5):642-6.

Labeling neurons in vivo for morphological and functional studies.

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Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Increasingly sophisticated strategies for labeling cells in vivo are providing unprecedented opportunities to study neurons in living animals. Transgenic expression of genetically encoded reporters enables us to monitor changes in neuronal activity in response to sensory stimuli, and the labeling of single neurons with fluorescent proteins allows the dynamics of neuronal connectivity to be observed in transgenic animals over periods ranging from minutes to months. Advances in transient labeling techniques such as viral infection and electroporation provide a rapid means by which to analyze neuronal gene function in vivo. These new approaches to labeling, manipulating and imaging neurons in intact organisms are transforming the way in which the nervous system is studied.

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