Background: Throughout the animal kingdom, GABA is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter of the nervous system. It is essential for maintaining the homeostatic balance between excitation and inhibition required for the brain to operate normally. Identification of GABAergic neurons and their GABA release sites are thus essential for understanding how the brain regulates the excitability of neurons and the activity of neural circuits responsible for numerous aspects of brain function including information processing, locomotion, learning, memory, and synaptic plasticity, among others. New method: Since the structure and features of GABA synapses are critical to understanding their function within specific neural circuits of interest, here we developed and characterized a conditional marker of GABAergic synaptic vesicles for Drosophila, 9XV5-vGAT. Results: 9XV5-vGAT is validated for conditionality of expression, specificity for localization to synaptic vesicles, specificity for expression in GABAergic neurons, and functionality. Its utility for GABAergic neurotransmitter phenotyping and identification of GABA release sites was verified for ellipsoid body neurons of the central complex. In combination with previously reported conditional SV markers for acetylcholine and glutamate, 9XV5-vGAT was used to demonstrate fast neurotransmitter phenotyping of subesophageal ganglion neurons. Comparison with existing methods: This method is an alternative to single cell transcriptomics for neurotransmitter phenotyping and can be applied to any neurons of interest represented by a binary transcription system driver. Conclusion: A conditional GABAergic synaptic vesicle marker has been developed and validated for GABA neurotransmitter phenotyping and subcellular localization of GABAergic synaptic vesicles.
- Epitope tag
- Synaptic vesicle