Linking Genetically Defined Neurons to Behavior through a Broadly Applicable Silencing Allele


Tools for suppressing synaptic transmission gain power when able to target highly selective neuron subtypes, thereby sharpening attainable links between neuron type, behavior, and disease; and when able to silence most any neuron subtype, thereby offering broad applicability. Here, we present such a tool, RC::PFtox, that harnesses breadth in scope along with high cell-type selection via combinatorial gene expression to deliver tetanus toxin light chain (tox), an inhibitor of vesicular neurotransmission. When applied in mice, we observed cell-type-specific disruption of vesicle exocytosis accompanied by loss of excitatory postsynaptic currents and commensurately perturbed behaviors. Among various test populations, we applied RC::PFtox to silence serotonergic neurons, en masse or a subset defined combinatorially. Of the behavioral phenotypes observed upon en masse serotonergic silencing, only one mapped to the combinatorially defined subset. These findings provide evidence for separability by genetic lineage of serotonin-modulated behaviors; collectively, these findings demonstrate broad utility of RC::PFtox for dissecting neuron functions. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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