Bioluminescence imaging of Arc expression enables detection of activity-dependent and plastic changes in the visual cortex of adult mice

Brain Struct Funct. 2011 Jun;216(2):91-104. doi: 10.1007/s00429-010-0297-2. Epub 2010 Dec 19.


Induction of the activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein gene (Arc), one of the immediate early genes, in the brain correlates with various sensory processes, natural behaviors, and pathological conditions. Arc is also involved in synaptic plasticity during development. Thus, in vivo monitoring of Arc expression is useful for the analysis of physiological and pathological conditions in the brain. Recently, in vivo imaging of Arc expression using various green fluorescent protein-based probes has been reported; however, these probes can only be applied for the detection of fluorescence signals from superficial layers of the cortex with some autofluorescence noise. Here, we generated a novel transgenic mouse strain to monitor the neuronal-activity-dependent Arc expression using bioluminescence signals in vivo. Because of the very high sensitivity with a high signal-to-noise ratio, we detected neuronal-activity-dependent plastic changes in the bioluminescence signal intensity in the mouse visual cortex after visual deprivation, suggesting structural plasticity after peripheral lesions in adults. We also detected drastic changes in bioluminescence signals after seizure induction with kainic acid. Our novel mouse strain will be valuable for the continuous monitoring of neuronal-activity-dependent Arc expression in the brain under physiological and pathological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genotype
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kainic Acid / toxicity
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Seizures / chemically induced
  • Seizures / metabolism
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • activity regulated cytoskeletal-associated protein
  • Kainic Acid