Functional enhancer elements drive subclass-selective expression from mouse to primate neocortex.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Cell Rep


washington; seattle; swedish neuro


Viral genetic tools that target specific brain cell types could transform basic neuroscience and targeted gene therapy. Here, we use comparative open chromatin analysis to identify thousands of human-neocortical-subclass-specific putative enhancers from across the genome to control gene expression in adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors. The cellular specificity of reporter expression from enhancer-AAVs is established by molecular profiling after systemic AAV delivery in mouse. Over 30% of enhancer-AAVs produce specific expression in the targeted subclass, including both excitatory and inhibitory subclasses. We present a collection of Parvalbumin (PVALB) enhancer-AAVs that show highly enriched expression not only in cortical PVALB cells but also in some subcortical PVALB populations. Five vectors maintain PVALB-enriched expression in primate neocortex. These results demonstrate how genome-wide open chromatin data mining and cross-species AAV validation can be used to create the next generation of non-species-restricted viral genetic tools.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)