Targeting neuronal and glial cell types with synthetic promoter AAVs in mice, non-human primates and humans

Nat Neurosci. 2019 Aug;22(8):1345-1356. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0431-2. Epub 2019 Jul 8.


Targeting genes to specific neuronal or glial cell types is valuable for both understanding and repairing brain circuits. Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) are frequently used for gene delivery, but targeting expression to specific cell types is an unsolved problem. We created a library of 230 AAVs, each with a different synthetic promoter designed using four independent strategies. We show that a number of these AAVs specifically target expression to neuronal and glial cell types in the mouse and non-human primate retina in vivo and in the human retina in vitro. We demonstrate applications for recording and stimulation, as well as the intersectional and combinatorial labeling of cell types. These resources and approaches allow economic, fast and efficient cell-type targeting in a variety of species, both for fundamental science and for gene therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dependovirus / genetics*
  • Gene Targeting / methods*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Humans
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuroglia / virology*
  • Neurons / virology*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Retina / virology