In order to link our knowledge of single neurons with theories of network function, it has been a long-standing goal to manipulate the activity and gene expression of identified subsets of mammalian neurons within the intact brain in vivo. This protocol describes a method for delivering plasmid DNA into single identified mammalian neurons in vivo, by combining two-photon imaging with single-cell electroporation. Surgery, mounting of a chronic recording chamber and targeted electroporation of identified neurons can be performed within 1-2 h. Stable transgene expression can reliably be induced with high success rates both in single neurons as well as in small, spatially defined networks of neurons in the cerebral cortex of rodents.
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