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Drosophila Brainbow: a recombinase-based fluorescence labeling technique to subdivide neural expression patterns.

  • Author(s): Hampel, Stefanie
  • Chung, Phuong
  • McKellar, Claire E
  • Hall, Donald
  • Looger, Loren L
  • Simpson, Julie H
  • et al.
Abstract

We developed a multicolor neuron labeling technique in Drosophila melanogaster that combines the power to specifically target different neural populations with the label diversity provided by stochastic color choice. This adaptation of vertebrate Brainbow uses recombination to select one of three epitope-tagged proteins detectable by immunofluorescence. Two copies of this construct yield six bright, separable colors. We used Drosophila Brainbow to study the innervation patterns of multiple antennal lobe projection neuron lineages in the same preparation and to observe the relative trajectories of individual aminergic neurons. Nerve bundles, and even individual neurites hundreds of micrometers long, can be followed with definitive color labeling. We traced motor neurons in the subesophageal ganglion and correlated them to neuromuscular junctions to identify their specific proboscis muscle targets. The ability to independently visualize multiple lineage or neuron projections in the same preparation greatly advances the goal of mapping how neurons connect into circuits.

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