Image of the Day: All Lit Up
Image of the Day: All Lit Up

Image of the Day: All Lit Up

A super-bright cell-labeling method reveals the intricate wiring that connects neurons in the brain.

Ashley Yeager
Nov 27, 2018

Tetbow highlights dendrite wiring of mitral cells in the olfactory bulbs of mice.

For the past decade or so, Brainbow—a technique that uses fluorescent proteins to label nerve cells—has been illuminating neuronal connections in the brain. But the method has a limitation. Scientists can’t use it to trace long sections of neurons’ axons and dendrites—the wiry and spiny projections that actually unite cells. A similar technique called Tetbow, which also uses fluorescent proteins, may offer a solution. 

Tetbow’s colors are more intense than Brainbow’s, allowing scientists to trace much longer nerve cell connections than before. Pairing the technique with another one that makes the brain see-through, Takeshi Imai of Kyushu University and his colleagues were able to trace several neurons in a whole mouse brain in just a few days. Tetbow, the authors say in eLife, should speed scientists’ ability to study nerve cell connections over large areas of the brain and in high resolution.

Tetbow reveals mitral cell wiring.

R. Sakaguchi et al., “Bright multicolor labeling of neuronal circuits with fluorescent proteins and chemical tags,” eLife, 7:e40350, 2018.