Functional labeling of neurons and their projections using the synthetic activity-dependent promoter E-SARE

Takashi Kawashima, Kazuo Kitamura, Kanzo Suzuki, Mio Nonaka, Satoshi Kamijo, Sayaka Takemoto-Kimura, Masanobu Kano, Hiroyuki Okuno, Kenichi Ohki, Haruhiko Bito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


Identifying the neuronal ensembles that respond to specific stimuli and mapping their projection patterns in living animals are fundamental challenges in neuroscience. To this end, we engineered a synthetic promoter, the enhanced synaptic activity-responsive element (E-SARE), that drives neuronal activity-dependent gene expression more potently than other existing immediate-early gene promoters. Expression of a drug-inducible Cre recombinase downstream of E-SARE enabled imaging of neuronal populations that respond to monocular visual stimulation and tracking of their long-distance thalamocortical projections in living mice. Targeted cell-attached recordings and calcium imaging of neurons in sensory cortices revealed that E-SARE reporter expression correlates with sensory-evoked neuronal activity at the single-cell level and is highly specific to the type of stimuli presented to the animals. This activity-dependent promoter can expand the repertoire of genetic approaches for high-resolution anatomical and functional analysis of neural circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-895
Number of pages7
JournalNature Methods
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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