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Table 1 Tools for neural circuit analysis

From: Neural circuits driving larval locomotion in Drosophila

(1) Binary expression systems. There are three driver/reporter systems commonly used in Drosophila: Gal4-UAS, LexA-lexAOP, and QF-QUAS [87,88,89]. Over 8000 cis-regulatory module (CRM)-Gal4 lines have been generated with many expressed in fewer than 10 neurons per brain lobe or fewer than 5 neurons per VNC hemisegment [7, 8]. These lines are modular so that the CRMs can be easily swapped to drive split-Gal4 elements or the Gal4 repressor Gal80, allowing intersectional expression patterns as sparse as single neurons [64, 90,91,92,93]. In addition, the CRMs can be used to drive other binary driver elements (LexA or QF), allowing two different genes to be expressed in two different neurons (e.g. Gal4/UAS to drive the neuronal activator Chrimson in putative input neurons, and LexA/LexAOP to drive the neural activity sensor GCaMP in putative downstream target neurons). (2) Neuronal activators and silencers. Commonly used neuronal activators are red-light activated Chrimson or ReaChR; green light activated channelrhodopsin (ChR); or warmth activated TrpA1 [94,95,96]. Neuronal silencers include the constitutively active inwardly rectifying potassium channel KiR [97] and light chain of tetanus toxin (TNT) [98], the yellow light-activated Halorhodopsin [25], the recently developed blue light activated anion channelrhodopsin GtACR [99, 100], or temperature-sensitive Shibire [101]. (3) Activity monitors. Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) Neuronal activity monitors include the GCaMP6 series (fast, medium, slow) and the more recent red-shifted RCaMP and RGECO [102].