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May 2016

Neuron-Specific Cre Expressing Rat Lines for Optogenetics

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Due to their larger size and higher intelligence rats are superior to mice for many neuroscience fields, but for historical reasons such as challenges with genome editing, they have often been overlooked in preference to the mouse. However, programmable nuclease technologies such as zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs) and CRISPR/Cas9 system have made engineering rat models much easier, and in this manner it is now possible to introduce the Cre-LoxP system into the rat.

Using gene editing we have created a suite of rat models for optogenetics research, consisting of various neuron-specific Cre drivers, Cre activity-dependent fluorescent reporter and opsin-expression rat lines. You can find our complete characterization of these rats in our recent publication in PLOS ONE here, but below we detail some of the analysis that demonstrates that the Cre expression in these Cre driver rats faithfully recapitulates that of the respective endogenous gene.

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