A noninvasive genetic/pharmacologic strategy for visualizing cell morphology and clonal relationships in the mouse

Tudor C. Badea, Yanshu Wang, Jeremy Nathans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Analysis of cellular morphology is the most general approach to neuronal classification. With the increased use of genetically engineered mice, there is a growing need for methods that can selectively visualize the morphologies of specified subsets of neurons. This capability is needed both to define cell morphologic phenotypes and to mark cells in a noninvasive manner for lineage studies. To this end, we describe a bipartite genetic system based on a Cre-estrogen receptor (ER) fusion protein that irreversibly activates a plasma membranebound alkaline phosphatase reporter gene by site-specific recombination. Because the efficiency and timing of gene rearrangement is controlled pharmacologically, a sparse subset of labeled cells can be generated from the set of CreER-expressing cells at any time during development. Histochemical visualization of alkaline phosphatase activity reveals neuronal morphology with strong and uniform labeling of all processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2314-2322
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2003



  • Brain development
  • Cell labeling
  • Cre recombinase
  • Lineage tracing
  • Neuronal morphology
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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