Professor of Genetics and of Biology
Department of Chemistry
Probing the molecular and functional properties of activated cellular ensembles is essential for understanding how these networks give rise to tissue and organ function. Changes in intracellular calcium levels report a variety of activated signaling pathways. To genetically tag cells that exhibit activity-related increases in calcium concentration, we developed a rapid and sensitive calcium integrator that can operate with minute-resolution (FLARE2). We demonstrated the capabilities of FLARE2 by transcriptionally labeling activated neural ensembles in the mouse brain. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, we detected FLARE2 transcripts among the endogenous transcriptome, providing simultaneous readout of both cell- type and calcium activation history. We also used FLARE2’s modular design to express an optogenetic ion channel in activated ensembles to probe their functional role in driving behavior.