Ngo HB - Melo MR - Layfield S - Connelly AA - Bassi JK - Xie L - Menuet C - McDougall SJ - Bathgate RAD - Allen AM


Cell reports


Chemogenetics enables manipulation of neuronal activity in experimental animals. While providing information about the transduced neuron expressing a ligand-activated molecule, chemogenetics does not provide understanding about the antecedent circuit that drives that neuron's activity. For current approaches, this is not feasible, because the activating molecules are not genetically encoded. The insect allatostatin/allatostatin receptor system, a highly specific, powerful inhibitory chemogenetic approach, has this advantage, because the ligand, being a peptide, is genetically encoded. We developed viral vector-based systems to express biologically active allatostatin in neurons in vivo and allatostatin receptors in subpopulations of postsynaptic neurons. We demonstrate that activity-dependent release of allatostatin induces inhibition of allatostatin receptor-expressing neurons. We validate the approach in the vagal viscerosensory system where inhibitory, rather than the usual excitatory, viscerosensory input leads to sustained decreases in baroreceptor reflex sensitivity and bodyweight.

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