An Efficient and Versatile System for Visualization and Genetic Modification of Dopaminergic Neurons in Transgenic Mice.
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: The brain dopaminergic (DA) system is involved in fine tuning many behaviors and several human diseases are associated with pathological alterations of the DA system such as Parkinson's disease (PD) and drug addiction. Because of its complex network integration, detailed analyses of physiological and pathophysiological conditions are only possible in a whole organism with a sophisticated tool box for visualization and functional modification. METHODS & RESULTS: Here, we have generated transgenic mice expressing the tetracycline-regulated transactivator (tTA) or the reverse tetracycline-regulated transactivator (rtTA) under control of the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) promoter, TH-tTA (tet-OFF) and TH-rtTA (tet-ON) mice, to visualize and genetically modify DA neurons. We show their tight regulation and efficient use to overexpress proteins under the control of tet-responsive elements or to delete genes of interest with tet-responsive Cre. In combination with mice encoding tet-responsive luciferase, we visualized the DA system in living mice progressively over time. CONCLUSION: These experiments establish TH-tTA and TH-rtTA mice as a powerful tool to generate and monitor mouse models for DA system diseases.
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