Distribution of CaMKIIα expression in the brain in vivo, studied by CaMKIIα-GFP mice

Brain Res. 2013 Jun 26:1518:9-25. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.04.042. Epub 2013 Apr 28.


To facilitate the study of the CaMKIIα function in vivo, a CaMKIIα-GFP transgenic mouse line was generated. Here, our goal is to provide the first neuroanatomical characterization of GFP expression in the CNS of this line of mouse. Overall, CaMKIIα-GFP expression is strong and highly heterogeneous, with the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus as the most abundantly expressed region. In the hippocampus, around 70% of granule and pyramidal neurons expressed strong GFP. In the neocortex, presumed pyramidal neurons were GFP positive: around 32% of layer II/III and 35% of layer VI neurons expressed GFP, and a lower expression rate was found in other layers. In the thalamus and hypothalamus, strong GFP signals were detected in the neuropil. GFP-positive cells were also found in many other regions such as the spinal trigeminal nucleus, cerebellum and basal ganglia. We further compared the GFP expression with specific antibody staining for CaMKIIα and GABA. We found that GFP+ neurons were mostly positive for CaMKIIα-IR throughout the brain, with some exceptions throughout the brain, especially in the deeper layers of neocortex. GFP and GABA-IR marked distinct neuronal populations in most brain regions with the exception of granule cells in the olfactory bulb, purkinje cells in the cerebellar, and some layer I cells in neocortex. In conclusion, GFP expression in the CaMKIIα-GFP mice is similar to the endogenous expression of CaMKIIα protein, thus these mice can be used in in vivo and in vitro physiological studies in which visualization of CaMKIIα- neuronal populations is required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / genetics
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2