Visualizing estrogen receptor-α-expressing neurons using a new ERα-ZsGreen reporter mouse line

Metabolism. 2016 Apr;65(4):522-32. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2015.12.011. Epub 2015 Dec 29.


Background: A variety of biological functions of estrogens, including regulation of energy metabolism, are mediated by neurons expressing estrogen receptor-α (ERα) in the brain. However, complex intracellular processes in these ERα-expressing neurons are difficult to unravel, due to the lack of strategy to visualize ERα-expressing neurons, especially in unfixed brain tissues.

Results and conclusions: Here we generated a novel ERα-ZsGreen reporter mouse line in which expression of a green fluorescent reporter protein, ZsGreen, is driven by a 241kb ERα gene promoter. We validated that ZsGreen is highly colocalized with endogenous ERα in the brain. Native ZsGreen signals were visualized in unfixed brain tissue, and were used to assist single cell collection and electrophysiological recordings. Finally, we demonstrated that this ERα-ZsGreen mouse allele can be used in combination with other genetic reporter alleles to allow experiments in highly selective neural populations.

Keywords: Brain; Electrophysiology; Estrogen receptor-α; Transgenic mouse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / metabolism
  • Brain Chemistry / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure*
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics


  • ERRalpha estrogen-related receptor
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin