Transgenic mice expressing a cameleon fluorescent Ca2+ indicator in astrocytes and Schwann cells allow study of glial cell Ca2+ signals in situ and in vivo

Stan D. Atkin, Sundip Patel, Ara Kocharyan, Lynne A. Holtzclaw, Susanna H. Weerth, Vincent Schram, James Pickel, James T. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Glial cell Ca2+ signals play a key role in glial-neuronal and glial-glial network communication. Numerous studies have thus far utilized cell-permeant and injected Ca2+ indicator dyes to investigate glial Ca2+ signals in vitro and in situ. Genetically encoded fluorescent Ca2+ indicators have emerged as novel probes for investigating cellular Ca2+ signals. We have expressed one such indicator protein, the YC 3.60 cameleon, under the control of the S100β promoter and directed its expression predominantly in astrocytes and Schwann cells. Expression of YC 3.60 extended into the entire cellular cytoplasmic compartment and the fine terminal processes of protoplasmic astrocytes and Schwann cell Cajal bands. In the brain, all the cells known to express S100β in the adult or during development, expressed YC 3.60. While expression was most extensive in astrocytes, other glial cell types that express S100β, such as NG2 and CNP-positive oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OP cells), microglia, and some of the large motor neurons in the brain stem, also contained YC 3.60 fluorescence. Using a variety of known in situ and in vivo assays, we found that stimuli known to elicit Ca2+ signals in astrocytes caused substantial and rapid Ca2+ signals in the YC 3.60-expressing astrocytes. In addition, forepaw stimulation while imaging astrocytes through a cranial window in the somatosensory cortex in live mice, revealed robust evoked and spontaneous Ca2+ signals. These results, for the first time, show that genetically encoded reporter is capable of recording activity-dependent Ca2+ signals in the astrocyte processes, and networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-226
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 30 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • Schwann cells
  • Transgenic mice
  • YC 3.60 cameleon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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