Virus: a new tool for generating pretty picturesJason Snyder | 05/25/2012
Now that I have something to show for it, let this be a formal announcement that I’ve returned to Toronto to join Paul Frankland’s lab (and therefore the larger Josselyn-Frankland group). I’ve always liked their work and one of the techniques I’m excited to learn is the use of viruses to alter gene expression in neurons. BECAUSE THIS WILL ALLOW ME TO TAKE PRETTY PICTURES!!! I will also say that this will be a short (but hopefully sweet) stay as I’ll be leaving at the end of the year to start my own lab in the Psychology Department at the University of British Columbia (!).
Now, on with the pictures! As always, I recommend high-res viewing (click on the image to view it, bigger, on Flickr).
More dentate granule cells, infected with Herpes Simplex Virus and expressing GFP.
In the process of learning the surgeries required to stereotactically inject the virus, you inevitably target the wrong regions. Which is fun because then you get a glimpse of something new. Here are GFP+ CA1 pyramidal neurons. You can see their axons projecting down and to the left, towards the subiculum.
More CA1 pyramidal neurons from the same animal but an adjacent section. I love the fanning of the dendrites. Click on the image and you can see spines in a higher resolution version.
Every day I see a retrovirally-labelled, non-neuronal (?) cell that looks more beautiful than the last one I imaged. Makes me want to cry.
Here are dentate granule cell axons, the mossy fibers, flowing through CA3 pyramidal neuron cell bodies, like a river gushing over rocks. In the woods. The balls on a string appearance is caused by the infamously large presynaptic boutons, which are distributed along the axon (like balls on a string, thin rope, or even dental floss).