‘Brainbow’ illuminates cellular connections | Science News

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‘Brainbow’ illuminates cellular connections

Scientists light up cells to track connections in mouse’s optic nerve

By
9:30am, May 4, 2015
micrograph of mouse's optic nerve

NERVE PROTECTORS  The glowing cells in this micrograph of a mouse’s optic nerve help shield electrical signals passing between eyes and brain. The Brainbow technique allows scientists to visualize how the cells work together.

A mouse’s optic nerve glows in a rainbow of colors in the micrograph above.

The image is made using Brainbow, a technique developed in 2007 that inserts genes for fluorescent proteins into animals. When activated, the proteins illuminate some cells in a range of colors.
 
While most researchers use Brainbow to visualize connections between nerve cells in the brain, Alain Chédotal of the Institut de la Vision in
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