Over the past years we have worked on:
(1) Viral-based approaches to non-invasive whole-brain cargo delivery: Genetically-encoded tools that can be used to visualize, monitor, and modulate mammalian neurons are revolutionizing neuroscience. These tools are particularly powerful in rodents and invertebrate models where intersectional transgenic strategies are available to restrict their expression to defined cell populations. However, use of genetic tools in non-transgenic animals is often hindered by the lack of vectors capable of safe, efficient, and specific delivery to the desired cellular targets. To begin to address these challenges, we have developed an in vivo Cre-based selection platform (CREATE) for identifying adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) that more efficiently transduce genetically defined cell populations. Our platform's novelty and power arises from the additional selective pressure imparted by a recovery step that amplifies only those capsid variants that have functionally transduced a genetically-defined, Cre-expressing target cell population. The Cre-dependent capsid recovery works within heterogeneous tissue samples without the need for additional steps such as selective capsid recovery approaches that require cell sorting or secondary adenovirus infection. As a first test of the CREATE platform, we selected for viruses that transduced the brain after intravascular delivery and found a novel vector, AAV-PHP.B, that is 40- to 90-fold more efficient at transducing the brain than the current standard, AAV9. AAV-PHP.B transduces most neuronal types and glia across the brain. We also demonstrate here how whole-body tissue clearing can facilitate transduction maps of systemically delivered genes. Since CNS disorders are notoriously challenging due to the restrictive nature of the blood brain barrier our discovery that recombinant vectors can be engineered to overcome this barrier is enabling for the whole field. With the exciting advances in gene editing via the CRISPR-Cas, RNA interference and gene replacement strategies, the availability of potent gene delivery methods provided by vectors such as our reported AAV-PHP.B is key to advancing the field of genome engineering.
• Deverman BE, Pravdo P, Simpson B, Banerjee A, Kumar, S.R., Chan K, Wu WL, Yang B, Gradinaru V. Cre-Dependent Capsid Selection Yields AAVs for Global Gene Transfer to the Adult Brain. Nature Biotechnol. 2016 Feb 34(2):204-9. PMID: 26829320
• Yang B, Treweek JB, Kulkarni RP, Deverman BE, Chen CK, Lubeck E, Shah S, Cai L, Gradinaru V. Single-cell phenotyping within transparent intact tissue through whole-body clearing. Cell. 2014 Aug 14;158(4):945-58. PMCID: PMC4153367.
(2) The mesopontine tegmentum, including the pedunculopontine and laterodorsal tegmental nuclei (PPN and LDT), provides major cholinergic inputs to midbrain and regulates locomotion and reward. To delineate the underlying projection-specific circuit mechanisms, we employed optogenetics to control mesopontine cholinergic neurons at somata and at divergent projections within distinct midbrain areas. Bidirectional manipulation of PPN cholinergic cell bodies exerted opposing effects on locomotor behavior and reinforcement learning. These motor and reward effects were separable via limiting photostimulation to PPN cholinergic terminals in the ventral substantia nigra pars compacta (vSNc) or to the ventral tegmental area (VTA), respectively. LDT cholinergic neurons also form connections with vSNc and VTA neurons; however, although photo-excitation of LDT cholinergic terminals in the VTA caused positive reinforcement, LDT-to-vSNc modulation did not alter locomotion or reward. Therefore, the selective targeting of projection-specific mesopontine cholinergic pathways may offer increased benefit in treating movement and addiction disorders.
• Xiao C, Cho JR, Zhou C, Treweek BJ, Chan K, McKinney SL, Yang B, and Gradinaru V. Cholinergic Mesopontine Signals Govern Locomotion and Reward Through Dissociable Midbrain Pathways. Neuron 2016 Apr 20;90(2)33-47. PMCID: PMC4840478
Viviana Gradinaru, "Switches for multiple behavioral states and a viral-based approach to non-invasive whole-brain cargo delivery (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10194, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications IX, 101942E (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 13, 2017; Published: 12 June 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2264147.5459357435001.
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