This post was contributed by Patrick Miller-Rhodes, a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellow at University of Rochester Medical Center.
During development, complex genetic programs specify and assemble diverse arrays of neurons, forming the neuronal circuits that will later be refined through experience. However, studying the genetic underpinnings of these processes has been complicated by the lack of precise genetic tools for modulating gene expression in the central nervous system (CNS). To address this technological gap, a trio of recent papers describe the development of CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) tools for neuroscience, including transgenic mice, neuron-optimized viral vectors, and high-throughput screening approaches. Here, we’ll highlight these recent advancements and offer commentary on their application to neuroscience research.