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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2006 Aug;32(4):344-55. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

Conditional labeling of newborn granule cells to visualize their integration into established circuits in hippocampal slice cultures.

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Brain Research Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


The dentate gyrus continues to produce new granule cells throughout life. Understanding the mechanisms underlying their integration into the pre-existing hippocampal circuitry is of crucial importance. In the present study, we developed an approach allowing visual tracking of newborn granule cells in hippocampal organotypic slices. By crossing neurogenin 2 (Ngn2-CreER) with Cre-reporter mice expressing YFP or GFP reporter genes, it was possible to observe living cells after treating slice cultures with 4-hydroxytamoxifen to induce Cre recombinase activation. Colocalization of GFP with the mitotic marker BrdU demonstrated that the GFP-expressing granule cells were born in vitro. They mature and integrate normally into the hippocampal circuitry, as shown using morphological and electrophysiological techniques. This ex vivo approach therefore offers a highly accessible model to study the effects of long-term treatments on maturation and integration of newborn granule cells.

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