Chemical Brainbow Labels Neurons in Drosophila Melanogaster in Minutes
Editor's Pics May 10, 2017
Rapid stochastic labelling of fruit fly neurons in a defined network. Scale bar is 50microns. Credit Dr. Ben Sutcliffe, Jefferis Lab, MRC LMB
This is an image of stochastically labeled neurons in the brain of a male fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).
These neurons are part of a neuronal network responsible for differing behaviors in males and female flies. As a result, the network wires up in a slightly different way in male and female brains.
The neurons were labeled using a system that turns on a chemical-tag in clusters of neurons at random. The tags are switched on by moving very young larvae (who will turn into flies after 9 days) from 21 degrees to 37 degrees for 10 minutes. The 'Heat Shock' triggers a recombinase to manipulate DNA previously introduced into the flies and effectively turns on one of the tags.
We then dissect the brain from the adult fly and rapidly label the tag with a substrate conjugated to a fluorophore each of which emits its certain color.
The chemical-tag labelling improves on classical antibody staining by speeding up the process. Substrate binding takes just 15minutes, and images like the one shown can be produced within an hour. This is a vast improvement on a process that can take up to a week with antibodies.
The technique allows for rapid and stochastic labeling of neurons in complex expression patterns and reveals the morphology of neurons that would normally remain hidden in the mass of interconnected processes.