Main content area

Advanced genetic and viral methods for labelling and manipulation of oxytocin and vasopressin neurones in rats

Yoshimura, Mitsuhiro, Ueta, Yoichi
Cell and tissue research 2019 v.375 no.1 pp. 311-327
genetic engineering, humans, laboratory animals, neurons, optogenetics, oxytocin, physiology, rats, transgenic animals, vasopressin
Rats have been widely used as one of the most common laboratory animals for biological research, because their physiology, pathology, and behavioral characteristics are highly similar to humans. Recent developments in rat genetic modification techniques have now led to further their utility for a broad range of research questions, including the ability to specifically label individual neurones, and even manipulate neuronal function in rats. We have succeeded in generating several transgenic rat lines that enable visualization of specific neurones due to their expression of fluorescently-tagged oxytocin, vasopressin, and c-fos protein. Furthermore, we have been able to generate novel transgenic rat lines in which we can activate vasopressin neurones using optogenetic and chemogenetic techniques. In this review, we will summarize the techniques of genetic modification for labeling and manipulating the specific neurones. Successful examples of generating transgenic rat lines in our lab and usefulness of these rats will also be introduced. These transgenic rat lines enable the interrogation of neuronal function and physiology in a way that was not possible in the past, providing novel insights into neuronal mechanisms both in vivo and ex vivo.