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The development of powerful molecular reagents for biology have propelled our understanding of neural circuit functionality. Precisely expressing these tools in well-defined cellular sub-populations has generally been limited to single-component cellular definitions (e.g. neurons defined by a single gene or projection). Intersectional expression approaches combine multiplexed recombinases, including Cre, Flp, and VCre to enable viral expression of molecular payloads in target populations defined by multiple parameters.
INTRSECT (intronic recombinase sites enabling combinatorial targeting) is a synthetic molecular targeting strategy that allows adeno-associated virus (AAV)-borne payloads to be expressed in cells based on a doubly-specified combination of genetic and/or anatomical-defined parameters, by placing two orthogonal recombinase (Cre and Flp) recognition sequences within synthetic introns. INTRSECT was first shown as a proof-of-concept targeting approach in 20141 (using EYFP and ChR2-EYFP as payloads). This approach has been broadly applied using multiple recombinase-expression ssitrategies to define cellular sub-populations of interest, including dual-transgenic recombinase-expressing mouse lines2-9 and combinations of transgenic recombinase-expressing animal lines and retro-grade expressing viruses delivering additional recombinases10-14.
The following resources may be of interest for groups interesting in implementing intersectional experimental design.
The Deisseroth Lab maintains a Standard Operating Procedure with general principles for working with INTRSECT recombinases, viruses, and important controls to consider as part of experimental design.
How-to guide for the molecular design and testing of novel INTSRECT plasmids for groups interested in producing their own INTRSECT plasmids.
In addition to EYFP and ChR2-EYFP, a large number of additional, validated molecular payloads in the INTRSECT configuration have been developed, including additional fluorophores, excitatory and inhibitory opsins, genetically-encoded calcium indicators, and rabies targeting genes.
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Mandelbaum G, Taranda J, Haynes TM, Hochbaum DR, Huang KW, Hyun M, Umadevi Venkataraju K, Straub C, Wang W, Robertson K, Osten P, Sabatini BL. 2019. Distinct Cortical-Thalamic-Striatal Circuits through the Parafascicular Nucleus. Neuron 102(3):636-652. PMID:30905392
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