In vivo and in vitro visualization of gene expression dynamics over extensive areas of the brain

Neuroimage. 2009 Feb 15;44(4):1274-83. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.10.046. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


In vivo monitoring of gene expression using promoter-destabilized fluorescence protein constructs is a powerful method for examining the expression dynamics of immediate-early genes in the brain. However, weak fluorescence signals derived from such constructs have hampered analyses of gene expression over extensive areas of the brain. We succeeded in producing transgenic mice with brains exhibiting high level expression of the reporter gene driven by the Arc gene promoter, which is activated in association with various brain functions (reporter mRNA abundance was near 100-fold greater than endogenous Arc mRNAs). This high expression of the reporter gene enabled us to monitor Arc gene expression dynamics in vivo, over an area that included the whole of the dorsal cerebral cortex. Moreover, we were able to perform three-dimensional analyses of activated regions using paraformaldehyde-fixed brains. In addition to the visual cortex, we found that the cingulate cortex was strongly activated by light stimuli. These mice are extremely useful for the functional analysis of gene expression over extensive areas of the brains in both wild-type mice and mutants with impaired brain function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / methods*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • activity regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein