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J Vis Exp. 2011 Jan 24;(47). pii: 2373. doi: 10.3791/2373.

Nucleofection and primary culture of embryonic mouse hippocampal and cortical neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

Abstract

Hippocampal and cortical neurons have been used extensively to study central nervous system (CNS) neuronal polarization, axon/dendrite outgrowth, and synapse formation and function. An advantage of culturing these neurons is that they readily polarize, forming distinctive axons and dendrites, on a two dimensional substrate at very low densities. This property has made them extremely useful for determining many aspects of neuronal development. Furthermore, by providing glial conditioning for these neurons they will continue to develop, forming functional synaptic connections and surviving for several months in culture. In this protocol we outline a technique to dissect, culture and transfect embryonic mouse hippocampal and cortical neurons. Transfection is accomplished by electroporating DNA into the neurons before plating via nucleofection. This protocol has the advantage of expressing fluorescently-tagged fusion proteins early in development (~4-8 hrs after plating) to study the dynamics and function of proteins during polarization, axon outgrowth and branching. We have also discovered that this single transfection before plating maintains fluorescently-tagged fusion protein expression at levels appropriate for imaging throughout the lifetime of the neuron (>2 months in culture). Thus, this methodology is useful for studying protein localization and function throughout CNS development with little or no disruption of neuronal function.

PMID:
21304471
PMCID:
PMC3182630
DOI:
10.3791/2373
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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