London: Scientists from University of Southampton have developed a new technique to mark individual brain cells to help improve the understanding of how brain works.
"The new technique will allow neuroscientists to answer questions they were unable to tackle before and contribute to the progress of understanding how our brain works," said lead researcher Diego Gomez-Nicola.
The marking technique, known as multicolour RGB tracking, allows single cells to be encoded with a heritable colour mark generated by a random combination of the three basic colours (red, green and blue).
Brains are injected with a solution containing three viral vectors, each producing one fluorescent protein in each of the three colours.
Each individual cell will take on a combination of the three colours to acquire a characteristic watermark.
Once the cell has been marked, the mark integrates into the DNA and will be expressed forever in that cell, as well as in any daughter cells.
"This innovative approach is primarily focused to improve neuroscience research, from allowing analysis of clonality to the completion of effective live imaging at the single-cell level," Gomez-Nicola added.
In neuroscience research, it is a challenge to individually label cells and to track them over space or time.
Human brain has billions of cells and to be able to distinguish them at the single-cell level and to modify their activity, it is crucial to understand such a complex organ.
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.