Activity-dependent expression of Channelrhodopsin at neuronal synapses

Francesco Gobbo, Laura Marchetti, Ajesh Jacob, Bruno Pinto, Noemi Binini, Federico Pecoraro Bisogni, Claudia Alia, Stefano Luin, Matteo Caleo, Tommaso Fellin, Laura Cancedda, Antonino Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing evidence points to the importance of dendritic spines in the formation and allocation of memories, and alterations of spine number and physiology are associated to memory and cognitive disorders. Modifications of the activity of subsets of synapses are believed to be crucial for memory establishment. However, the development of a method to directly test this hypothesis, by selectively controlling the activity of potentiated spines, is currently lagging. Here we introduce a hybrid RNA/protein approach to regulate the expression of a light-sensitive membrane channel at activated synapses, enabling selective tagging of potentiated spines following the encoding of a novel context in the hippocampus. This approach can be used to map potentiated synapses in the brain and will make it possible to re-activate the neuron only at previously activated synapses, extending current neuron-tagging technologies in the investigation of memory processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1629
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Brain/metabolism
  • Channelrhodopsins/genetics
  • Dendritic Spines/genetics
  • Hippocampus/metabolism
  • Mice
  • Neurons/metabolism
  • RNA/genetics
  • Synapses/genetics


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