Bachelor of Science, University of Wisconsin Madison (2007)
Doctor of Philosophy, Harvard University (2012)
Robert Malenka, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA) neurons have been implicated in reward, aversion, salience, cognition, and several neuropsychiatric disorders. Optogenetic approaches involving transgenic Cre-driver mouse lines provide powerful tools for dissecting DA-specific functions. However, the emerging complexity of VTA circuits requires Cre-driver mouse lines that restrict transgene expression to a precisely defined cell population. Because of recent work reporting that VTA DA neurons projecting to the lateral habenula release GABA, but not DA, we performed an extensive anatomical, molecular, and functional characterization of prominent DA transgenic mouse driver lines. We find that transgenes under control of the tyrosine hydroxylase, but not the dopamine transporter, promoter exhibit dramatic non-DA cell-specific expression patterns within and around VTA nuclei. Our results demonstrate how Cre expression in unintentionally targeted cells in transgenic mouse lines can confound the interpretation of supposedly cell-type-specific experiments. This Matters Arising paper is in response to Stamatakis et al. (2013), published in Neuron. See also the Matters Arising Response paper by Stuber et al. (2015), published concurrently with this Matters Arising in Neuron.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.12.036
View details for Web of Science ID 000348296000019
To understand how the nervous system processes information, a map of the connections among neurons would be of great benefit. Here we describe the use of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) for tracing neuronal connections in vivo. We made VSV vectors that used glycoprotein (G) genes from several other viruses. The G protein from lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus endowed VSV with the ability to spread transsynaptically, specifically in an anterograde direction, whereas the rabies virus glycoprotein gave a specifically retrograde transsynaptic pattern. The use of an avian G protein fusion allowed specific targeting of cells expressing an avian receptor, which allowed a demonstration of monosynaptic anterograde tracing from defined cells. Synaptic connectivity of pairs of virally labeled cells was demonstrated by using slice cultures and electrophysiology. In vivo infections of several areas in the mouse brain led to the predicted patterns of spread for anterograde or retrograde tracers.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1110854108
View details for Web of Science ID 000294804900082
View details for PubMedID 21825165