Generation of an iba1-EGFP transgenic rat for the study of microglia in an outbred rodent strain

Jonathan W. Vanryzin, Sheryl E. Arambula, Sydney E. Ashton, Alexa C. Blanchard, Max D. Burzinski, Katherine T. Davis, Serena Edwards, Emily L. Graham, Amanda Holley, Katherine E. Kight, Ashley E. Marquardt, Miguel Perez-Pouchoulen, Lindsay A. Pickett, Erin L. Reinl, Margaret M. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Neuroscience has been transformed by the ability to genetically modify inbred mice, including the ability to express fluorescent markers specific to cell types or activation states. This approach has been put to particularly good effect in the study of the innate immune cells of the brain, microglia. These specialized macrophages are exceedingly small and complex, but also highly motile and mobile. To date, there have been no tools similar to those in mice available for studying these fundamental cells in the rat brain, and we seek to fill that gap with the generation of the genetically modified Sprague Dawley rat line: SD-Tg(Iba1-EGFP)Mmmc. Using CRISPR-Cas/9 technology, we knocked in EGFP to the promoter of the gene Iba1. With four male and three female founders confirmed by quantitative PCR analysis to have appropriate and specific insertion, we established a breeding colony with at least three generations of backcrosses to obtain stable and reliable Iba1-EGFP expression. The specificity of EGFP expression to microglia was established by flow cytometry for CD45low/CD11b1 cells and by immunohistochemistry. Microglial EGFP expression was detected in neonates and persisted into adulthood. Blood macrophages and monocytes were found to express low levels of EGFP, as expected. Last, we show that EGFP expression is suitable for live imaging of microglia processes in acute brain slices and via intravital two-photon microscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberENEURO.0026-21.2021
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Brain
  • EGFP
  • Iba1
  • Macrophage
  • Microglia
  • Transgenic rat


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