A neuroscientist's guide to transgenic mice and other genetic tools

Shaghayegh Navabpour, Janine L. Kwapis, Timothy J. Jarome

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The past decade has produced an explosion in the number and variety of genetic tools available to neuroscientists, resulting in an unprecedented ability to precisely manipulate the genome and epigenome in behaving animals. However, no single resource exists that describes all of the tools available to neuroscientists. Here, we review the genetic, transgenic, and viral techniques that are currently available to probe the complex relationship between genes and cognition. Topics covered include types of traditional transgenic mouse models (knockout, knock-in, reporter lines), inducible systems (Cre-loxP, Tet-On, Tet-Off) and cell- and circuit-specific systems (TetTag, TRAP, DIO-DREADD). Additionally, we provide details on virus-mediated and siRNA/shRNA approaches, as well as a comprehensive discussion of the myriad manipulations that can be made using the CRISPR-Cas9 system, including single base pair editing and spatially- and temporally-regulated gene-specific transcriptional control. Collectively, this review will serve as a guide to assist neuroscientists in identifying and choosing the appropriate genetic tools available to study the complex relationship between the brain and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-748
Number of pages17
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Jan 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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