Genetic approaches to neural circuits in the mouse.
To understand the organization and assembly of mammalian brain circuits, we need a comprehensive tool set that can address the challenges of cellular diversity, spatial complexity at synapse resolution, dynamic complexity of circuit operations, and multifaceted developmental processes rooted in the genome. Complementary to physics- and chemistry-based methods, genetic tools tap into intrinsic cellular and developmental mechanisms. Thus, they have the potential to achieve appropriate spatiotemporal resolution and the cellular-molecular specificity necessary for observing and probing the makings and inner workings of neurons and neuronal circuits. Furthermore, genetic analysis will be key to unraveling the intricate link from genes to circuits to systems, in part through systematic targeting and tracking of individual cellular components of neural circuits. Here we review recent progress in genetic tool development and advances in genetic analysis of neural circuits in the mouse. We also discuss future directions and implications for understanding brain disorders.
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