Routine targeting of neurones for expression of exogenous genes would facilitate our ability to manipulate their internal milieu or functions, providing insight into physiology of neurones. The magnocellular neurones of the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei of the hypothalamus have been the objects of limited success by this approach. Here we report on the placement of the enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) coding sequence at various locations within an oxytocin transgene. Placement within the first exon yielded little to no expression, whereas placement in the third exon (as an in-frame fusion with the carboxyl terminus of the oxytocin preprohormone) resulted in cell-specific expression of eGFP in oxytocin neurones. Furthermore, placement of the eGFP sequence downstream of a picornavirus internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), also in the third exon, allowed expression of the eGFP as a separate protein. Other coding sequences should now be amenable to expression within oxytocin neurones to study their physiology.
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