Sensory experiences cause long-term modifications of neuronal circuits by modulating activity-dependent transcription programs that are vital for regulation of long-term synaptic plasticity and memory. However, it has not been possible to precisely determine the interaction between neuronal activity patterns and transcription factor activity. Here we present a technique using two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging (2pFLIM) with new FRET biosensors to chronically image in vivo signaling of CREB, an activity-dependent transcription factor important for synaptic plasticity, at single-cell resolution. Simultaneous imaging of the red-shifted CREB sensor and GCaMP permitted exploration of how experience shapes the interplay between CREB and neuronal activity in the neocortex of awake mice. Dark rearing increased the sensitivity of CREB activity to Ca2+ elevations and prolonged the duration of CREB activation to more than 24 h in the visual cortex. This technique will allow researchers to unravel the transcriptional dynamics underlying experience-dependent plasticity in the brain.
Keywords: CREB; FLIM; FRET; in vivo imaging.
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