Zhao, SL (reprint author), Duke Univ, Med Ctr, Dept Neurobiol, Durham, NC 27710 USA,email@example.com
Neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus is an important form of structural plasticity in the brain. Here we report a line of BAC transgenic mice (GAD67-GFP mice) that selectively and transitorily express GFP in newborn dentate granule cells of the adult hippocampus. These GFP+ cells show a high degree of colocalization with BrdU-labeled nuclei one week after BrdU injection and express the newborn neuron marker doublecortin and PSA-NCAM. Compared to mature dentate granule cells, these newborn neurons show immature morphological features: dendritic beading, fewer dendritic branches and spines. These GFP+ newborn neurons also show immature electrophysiological properties: higher input resistance, more depolarized resting membrane potentials, small and non-typical action potentials. The bright labeling of newborn neurons with GFP makes it possible to visualize the details of dendrites, which reach the outer edge of the molecular layer, and their axon (mossy fiber) terminals, which project to the CA3 region where they form synaptic boutons. GFP expression covers the whole developmental stage of newborn neurons, beginning within the first week of cell division and disappearing as newborn neurons mature, about 4 weeks postmitotic. Thus, the GAD67-GFP transgenic mice provide a useful genetic tool for studying the development and regulation of newborn dentate granule cells.