Tracing goes viral: Viruses that introduce expression of fluorescent proteins in chemically-specific neurons

Antonio Luchicchi, Tommy Pattij, John Noel Viana, Sybren de Kloet, Marchant Nathan

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    Over the last century, there has been great progress in understanding how the brain works. In particular, the last two decades have been crucial in gaining more awareness over the complex functioning of neurotransmitter systems. The use of viral vectors in neuroscience has been pivotal for such development. Exploiting the properties of viral particles, modifying them according to the research needs, and making them target chemically-specific neurons, techniques such as optogenetics and chemogenetics have been developed, which could lead to a giant step toward gene therapy for brain disorders. In this review, we aim to provide an overview of some of the most widely used viral techniques in neuroscience. We will discuss advantages and disadvantages of these methods. In particular, attention is dedicated to the pivotal role played by the introduction of adeno-associated virus and the retrograde tracer canine-associated-2 Cre virus in order to achieve optimal visualization, and interrogation, of chemically-specific neuronal populations and their projections.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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