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Generation of a DAT-P2A-Flpo mouse line for intersectional genetic targeting of dopamine neuron subpopulations.


Dopaminergic projections exert widespread influence over multiple brain regions and modulate various behaviors including movement, reward learning, and motivation. It is increasingly appreciated that dopamine neurons are heterogeneous in their gene expression, circuitry, physiology, and function. Current approaches to target dopamine neurons are largely based on single gene drivers, which either label all dopamine neurons or mark a subset but concurrently label non-dopaminergic neurons. Here, we establish a mouse line with Flpo recombinase expressed from the endogenous Slc6a3 (dopamine active transporter [DAT]) locus. DAT-P2A-Flpo mice can be used together with Cre-expressing mouse lines to efficiently and selectively label dopaminergic subpopulations using Cre/Flp-dependent intersectional strategies. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by generating DAT-P2A-Flpo;NEX-Cre mice that specifically label Neurod6-expressing dopamine neurons, which project to the nucleus accumbens medial shell. DAT-P2A-Flpo mice add to a growing toolbox of genetic resources that will help parse the diverse functions mediated by dopaminergic circuits.

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