Combining Optogenetics and Electrophysiology to Analyze Projection Neuron Circuits

Cold Spring Harbor Protocols
Naoki YamawakiGordon M G Shepherd

Abstract

A set of methods is described for channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2)-based synaptic circuit analysis that combines photostimulation of virally transfected presynaptic neurons' axons with whole-cell electrophysiological recordings from retrogradely labeled postsynaptic neurons. The approach exploits the preserved photoexcitability of ChR2-expressing axons in brain slices and can be used to assess either local or long-range functional connections. Stereotaxic injections are used both to express ChR2 selectively in presynaptic axons of interest (using rabies virus [RV] or adeno-associated virus [AAV]) and to label two types of postsynaptic projection neurons of interest with fluorescent retrograde tracers. In brain slices, tracer-labeled postsynaptic neurons are targeted for whole-cell electrophysiological recordings, and synaptic connections are assessed by sampling voltage or current responses to light-emitting diode (LED) photostimulation of ChR2-expressing axons. The data are analyzed to estimate the relative amplitude of synaptic input and other connectivity parameters. Pharmacological and electrophysiological manipulations extend the versatility of the basic approach, allowing the dissection of monosynaptic versus disynaptic response...Continue Reading

References

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