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Molecular Profiling of Neurons Based on Connectivity


The complexity and cellular heterogeneity of neural circuitry presents a major challenge to understanding the role of discrete neural populations in controlling behavior. While neuroanatomical methods enable high-resolution mapping of neural circuitry, these approaches do not allow systematic molecular profiling of neurons based on their connectivity. Here, we report the development of an approach for molecularly profiling projective neurons. We show that ribosomes can be tagged with a camelid nanobody raised against GFP and that this system can be engineered to selectively capture translating mRNAs from neurons retrogradely labeled with GFP. Using this system, we profiled neurons projecting to the nucleus accumbens. We then used an AAV to selectively profile midbrain dopamine neurons projecting to the nucleus accumbens. By comparing the captured mRNAs from each experiment, we identified a number of markers specific to VTA dopaminergic projection neurons. The current method provides a means for profiling neurons based on their projections.

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