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Ginger, Melanie; Haberl, Matthias; Conzelmann, Karl-Klaus; Schwarz, Martin K.; Frick, Andreas (January 2013): Revealing the secrets of neuronal circuits with recombinant rabies virus technology. In: Frontiers in Neural Circuits, Vol. 7, 2


An understanding of how the brain processes information requires knowledge of the architecture of its underlying neuronal circuits, as well as insights into the relationship between architecture and physiological function. A range of sophisticated tools is needed to acquire this knowledge, and recombinant rabies virus (RABV) is becoming an increasingly important part of this essential toolbox. RABV has been recognized for years for its properties as a synapse-specific trans-neuronal tracer. A novel genetically modified variant now enables the investigation of specific monosynaptic connections. This technology, in combination with other genetic, physiological, optical, and computational tools, has enormous potential for the visualization of neuronal circuits, and for monitoring and manipulating their activity. Here we will summarize the latest developments in this fast moving field and provide a perspective for the use of this technology for the dissection of neuronal circuit structure and function in the normal and diseased brain.