Tracking distinct microglia subpopulations with photoconvertible Dendra2 in vivo.

Journal of Neuroinflammation
Eric B MillerMarie E Burns

Abstract

The ability to track individual immune cells within the central nervous system has revolutionized our understanding of the roles that microglia and monocytes play in synaptic maintenance, plasticity, and neurodegenerative diseases. However, distinguishing between similar subpopulations of mobile immune cells over time during episodes of neuronal death and tissue remodeling has proven to be challenging. We recombineered a photoconvertible fluorescent protein (Dendra2; D2) downstream of the Cx3cr1 promoter commonly used to drive expression of fluorescent markers in microglia and monocytes. Like the popular Cx3cr1-GFP line (Cx3cr1+/GFP), naïve microglia in Cx3cr1-Dendra2 mice (Cx3cr1+/D2) fluoresce green and can be noninvasively imaged in vivo throughout the CNS. In addition, individual D2-expressing cells can be photoconverted, resulting in red fluorescence, and tracked unambiguously within a field of green non-photoconverted cells for several days in vivo. Dendra2-expressing retinal microglia were noninvasively photoconverted in both ex vivo and in vivo conditions. Local in vivo D2 photoconversion was sufficiently robust to quantify cell subpopulations by flow cytometry, and the protein was stable enough to survive tissue proces...Continue Reading

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