SPARC enables genetic manipulation of precise proportions of cells

Nat Neurosci. 2020 Sep;23(9):1168-1175. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0668-9. Epub 2020 Jul 20.


Many experimental approaches rely on controlling gene expression in select subsets of cells within an individual animal. However, reproducibly targeting transgene expression to specific fractions of a genetically defined cell type is challenging. We developed Sparse Predictive Activity through Recombinase Competition (SPARC), a generalizable toolkit that can express any effector in precise proportions of post-mitotic cells in Drosophila. Using this approach, we demonstrate targeted expression of many effectors in several cell types and apply these tools to calcium imaging of individual neurons and optogenetic manipulation of sparse cell populations in vivo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Neurons*
  • Recombinases*
  • Transgenes*


  • Recombinases