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Traffic. 2011 Apr;12(4):372-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2010.01157.x. Epub 2011 Feb 8.

Imaging in vivo neuronal transport in genetic model organisms using microfluidic devices.

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Neurobiology, NCBS-TIFR, Bellary Road, Bangalore 560065, India.


Microfluidic devices have been developed for imaging behavior and various cellular processes in Caenorhabditis elegans, but not subcellular processes requiring high spatial resolution. In neurons, essential processes such as axonal, dendritic, intraflagellar and other long-distance transport can be studied by acquiring fast time-lapse images of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged moving cargo. We have achieved two important goals in such in vivo studies namely, imaging several transport processes in unanesthetized intact animals and imaging very early developmental stages. We describe a microfluidic device for immobilizing C. elegans and Drosophila larvae that allows imaging without anesthetics or dissection. We observed that for certain neuronal cargoes in C. elegans, anesthetics have significant and sometimes unexpected effects on the flux. Further, imaging the transport of certain cargo in early developmental stages was possible only in the microfluidic device. Using our device we observed an increase in anterograde synaptic vesicle transport during development corresponding with synaptic growth. We also imaged Q neuroblast divisions and mitochondrial transport during early developmental stages of C. elegans and Drosophila, respectively. Our simple microfluidic device offers a useful means to image high-resolution subcellular processes in C. elegans and Drosophila and can be readily adapted to other transparent or translucent organisms.

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