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Barbosa, Joana S.; Di Giaimo, Rossella; Götz, Magdalena; Ninkovic, Jovica (2016): Single-cell in vivo imaging of adult neural stem cells in the zebrafish telencephalon. In: Nature Protocols, Vol. 11, No. 8: pp. 1360-1370
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Abstract

Adult neural stem cells (aNSCs) in zebrafish produce mature neurons throughout their entire life span in both the intact and regenerating brain. An understanding of the behavior of aNSCs in their intact niche and during regeneration in vivo should facilitate the identification of the molecular mechanisms controlling regeneration-specific cellular events. A greater understanding of the process in regeneration-competent species may enable regeneration to be achieved in regeneration-incompetent species, including humans. Here we describe a protocol for labeling and repetitive imaging of aNSCs in vivo. We label single aNSCs, allowing nonambiguous re-identification of single cells in repetitive imaging sessions using electroporation of a red-reporter plasmid in Tg(gfap:GFP)mi2001 transgenic fish expressing GFP in aNSCs. We image using two-photon microscopy through the thinned skull of anesthetized and immobilized fish. Our protocol allows imaging every 2 d for a period of up to 1 month. This methodology allowed the visualization of aNSCs behavior in vivo in their natural niche, in contrast to previously available technologies, which rely on the imaging of either dissociated cells or tissue slices. We used this protocol to follow the mode of aNSCs division, fate changes and cell death in both the intact and injured zebrafish telencephalon. This experimental setup can be widely used, with minimal prior experience, to assess key factors for processes that modulate aNSCs behavior. A typical experiment with data analysis takes up to 1.5 months.