Imaging neuronal subsets in transgenic mice expressing multiple spectral variants of GFP.
We generated transgenic mice in which red, green, yellow, or cyan fluorescent proteins (together termed XFPs) were selectively expressed in neurons. All four XFPs labeled neurons in their entirety, including axons, nerve terminals, dendrites, and dendritic spines. Remarkably, each of 25 independently generated transgenic lines expressed XFP in a unique pattern, even though all incorporated identical regulatory elements (from the thyl gene). For example, all retinal ganglion cells or many cortical neurons were XFP positive in some lines, whereas only a few ganglion cells or only layer 5 cortical pyramids were labeled in others. In some lines, intense labeling of small neuronal subsets provided a Golgi-like vital stain. In double transgenic mice expressing two different XFPs, it was possible to differentially label 3 neuronal subsets in a single animal.