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Keywords:

  • Gal80;
  • zebrafish;
  • Gal4;
  • Gal4-VP16;
  • intersectional expression;
  • conditional expression

Abstract

Characterization and functional manipulation of specific groups of neurons in the vertebrate central nervous system (CNS) remains a major hurdle for understanding complex circuitry and functions. In zebrafish, the Gal4/UAS system has permitted expression of transgenes and enhancer trap screens, but is often limited by broad expression domains. We have developed a method for cell-type specific expression using Gal80 inhibition of Gal4-dependent expression. We show that native Gal4 is able to drive strong expression, that Gal80 can inhibit this expression, and that overlapping Gal4 and Gal80 expression can achieve “intersectional” expression in spatially and genetically defined subsets of neurons. We also optimize Gal80 for expression in vertebrates, track Gal80 expression with a co-expressed fluorescent marker, and use a temperature-sensitive allele of Gal80 to temporally regulate its function. These data demonstrate that Gal80 is a powerful addition to the genetic techniques available to map and manipulate neural circuits in zebrafish. Developmental Dynamics 240:2324–2334, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.