Connectivity and Circuit Architecture Using Transsynaptic Tracing in Vertebrates

  • Kazunari MiyamichiEmail author
  • Lindsay A. Schwarz


The functions of the brain—such as sensory perception, memory formation, and behavioral responses—are based on the activity patterns of large numbers of interconnected neurons that form information-processing neuronal circuits. Most brain areas contain diverse types of neurons with specific morphology, gene expression profiles, input/output connectivity, and physiological response profiles. One major goal of neuroscience is to decipher connection patterns among different brain regions and cell types at the scale of the entire brain while keeping synaptic resolution. In this chapter, we first review various circuit tracing methods, and then introduce rabies virus (RV)-mediated transsynaptic tracing methods, which allow one to identify presynaptic neurons of genetically, anatomically, or functionally defined target neurons in a given brain area. This is achieved by genetic control of ‘starter’ cells, from which retrograde transsynaptic spread of RV occurs for only a single synaptic step. We will detail diverse methods that have been developed to restrict starter cells to a unique neuronal type. Following an introduction of RV transsynaptic tracing, the applications of these tools to three diverse biological systems in mice will be discussed: olfaction, neuromodulation, and motor control. From these examples, we will review how RV-mediated transsynaptic tracing has begun to decipher complex circuit architectures throughout the brain and spinal cord, and provides an important link between neuronal connections and circuit function.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ERATO Touhara Chemosensory Signal Project GroupThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Developmental NeurobiologySt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA

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