Transplantation of Chemogenetically Engineered Cortical Interneuron Progenitors into Early Postnatal Mouse Brains

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Neuronal development is regulated by a complex combination of environmental and genetic factors. Assessing the relative contribution of each component is a complicated task, which is particularly difficult in regards to the development of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic cortical interneurons (CIs). CIs are the main inhibitory neurons in the cerebral cortex, and they play key roles in neuronal networks, by regulating both the activity of individual pyramidal neurons, as well as the oscillatory behavior of neuronal ensembles. They are generated in transient embryonic structures (medial and caudal ganglionic eminences - MGE and CGE) that are very difficult to efficiently target using in utero electroporation approaches. Interneuron progenitors migrate long distances during normal embryonic development, before they integrate in the cortical circuit. This remarkable ability to disperse and integrate into a developing network can be hijacked by transplanting embryonic interneuron precursors into early post-natal host cortices. Here, we present a protocol that allows genetic modification of embryonic interneuron progenitors using focal ex vivo electroporation. These engineered interneuron precursors are then transplanted into early post-natal host cortices, where they will mature into easily identifiable CIs. This protocol allows the use of multiple genetically encoded tools, or the ability to regulate the expression of specific genes in interneuron progenitors, in order to investigate the impact of either genetic or environmental variables on the maturation and integration of CIs.