Development of a precise olfactory circuit relies on accurate projection of olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) axons to their synaptic targets in the olfactory bulb (OB). The molecular mechanisms of OSN axon growth and targeting are not well understood. Manipulating gene expression and subsequent visualizing of single OSN axons and their terminal arbor morphology have thus far been challenging. To study gene function at the single cell level within a specified time frame, we developed a lentiviral based technique to manipulate gene expression in OSNs in vivo. Lentiviral particles are delivered to OSNs by microinjection into the olfactory epithelium (OE). Expression cassettes are then permanently integrated into the genome of transduced OSNs. Green fluorescent protein expression identifies infected OSNs and outlines their entire morphology, including the axon terminal arbor. Due to the short turnaround time between microinjection and reporter detection, gene function studies can be focused within a very narrow period of development. With this method, we have detected GFP expression within as few as three days and as long as three months following injection. We have achieved both over-expression and shRNA mediated knock-down by lentiviral microinjection. This method provides detailed morphologies of OSN cell bodies and axons at the single cell level in vivo, and thus allows characterization of candidate gene function during olfactory development.
- Issue 51
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Chemical Engineering(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)