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Important Considerations in Optogenetics Behavioral Experiments

Posted by Guest Blogger on Oct 1, 2015 10:30:00 AM

This post is part of our Primer on Optogenetics and was contributed by guest blogger Derek Simon.

The actual experiments you do will be determined by the topic you’re interested in studying, but, in today’s post, we’ll discuss some of the important considerations you should think about when developing optogenetics behavioral experiments. There are far too many behaviors that have utilized optogenetics to be fully summarized in a short blog post, but some examples I’m personally interested in include: intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) and place preference. The lab I work in (the Kreek lab) focuses on the neurobiology of addictive diseases, which means we are interested in circuits that mediate drug taking behavior. If a circuit reinforces behavior (activation of the circuit promotes subsequent, repeated activation), this is an approximation of reward or the sense of pleasure that the animal perceives through taking a drug. The ideal behaviors to test reinforcement are ICSS and place preference.

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Topics: Optogenetics, Lab Tips, Primer on Optogenetics

pSiM24: Simplifying Plant Genetic Engineering

Posted by Mary Gearing on Sep 29, 2015 10:30:00 AM

As previous blogs have noted, plants are an important foundation for life on Earth. Selective breeding methods have shaped the plants that we grow and eat, and genetic engineering will continue to improve plant nutrition, yield, and pest resistance. Much of plant genetic engineering revolves around Agrobacterium tumifaciens. Agrobacterium carries a “tumor-inducing” or Ti plasmid, which allows it to transfer genetic material into the host plant genome. Scientists have worked to optimize this system for gene transfer, studying the stability of modified Ti plasmids during plant infection, as well as plasmid yield during preparation in E. coli. Addgene depositor Indu Maiti has created a new and versatile binary Ti vector for both transient and stable gene expression applications in plants. This smaller, easily customizable vector functions in multiple species, including tobacco and Arabidopsis.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Plant Biology

CRISPR 101: Mammalian Expression Systems and Delivery Methods

Posted by Nicole Waxmonsky on Sep 24, 2015 10:30:00 AM

This post was updated on Dec 4, 2017.

CRISPR technology has been widely adopted for genome editing purposes because it's cheaper, faster, and easier than prior editing techniques. More and more CRISPR tools are being published each month, making CRISPR a great choice for your next experiment!

In this blog post we’ll provide an overview of some CRISPR mammalian expression systems, the typical applications for each, and potential delivery methods.

 

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Topics: Genome Engineering, CRISPR, CRISPR 101

New Tool for Lineage Tracing: The ClonTracer Library

Posted by Tyler Ford on Sep 22, 2015 10:30:00 AM

This article is based on an interview with Novartis researcher, Carrie Bhang.

The ClonTracer Library, deposited by Carrie Bhang, a research investigator in the In Vivo Pharmacology group at Novartis Oncology, is an exciting new tool that allows researchers to individually label millions of mammalian cells through lentiviral infection and to monitor their abundance and clonal dynamics over time using next generation sequencing (NGS). The library was developed when Carrie was a post-doc in Frank Stegmeier’s lab in Novartis Oncology. 

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Topics: Interview, Viral Vectors, pooled libraries, Cancer

The Materials Science of Optogenetics Experiments

Posted by Guest Blogger on Sep 17, 2015 10:30:00 AM

This post is part of our Primer on Optogenetics and was contributed by guest blogger Derek Simon.

The surgeries and standard molecular neuroscience validation experiments we discussed last week are only half of the battle when using optogentics to answer a research question. The flip side of the optogenetics coin is materials science-based. Light is delivered to your opsin through a small piece of fiber optic cable implanted into the animal’s skull (right). The fiber optic cable is threaded throughand fixed to—an optical insulator called a ferrule (below). The fiber optic cable/ferrule is inserted into the target brain region using stereotaxic surgery and cemented to the animal’s skull using dental cement (a similar procedure as implanting a guide cannula). A fiber optic patch cable is then connected from laser to ferrule to deliver light pulses to the target brain region.

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Topics: Optogenetics, Techniques, Primer on Optogenetics

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