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Nat Neurosci. 2008 Jun;11(6):721-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.2118. Epub 2008 May 4.

Single-neuron labeling with inducible Cre-mediated knockout in transgenic mice.

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


To facilitate a functional analysis of neuronal connectivity in a mammalian nervous system that is tightly packed with billions of cells, we developed a new technique that uses inducible genetic manipulations in fluorescently labeled single neurons in mice. Our technique, single-neuron labeling with inducible Cre-mediated knockout (SLICK), is achieved by coexpressing a drug-inducible form of Cre recombinase and a fluorescent protein in a small subsets of neurons, thus combining the powerful Cre recombinase system for conditional genetic manipulation with fluorescent labeling of single neurons for imaging. Here, we demonstrate efficient inducible genetic manipulation in several types of neurons using SLICK. Furthermore, we applied SLICK to eliminate synaptic transmission in a small subset of neuromuscular junctions. Our results provide evidence for the long-term stability of inactive neuromuscular synapses in adult animals and demonstrate a Cre-loxP compatible system for dissecting gene functions in single identifiable neurons.

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