Visualizing neural circuits is a fundamental technique used to better characterize neuronal anatomy (Tabuchi 2000). The Gal4/UAS system has been used as a tool to study the Drosophila nervous system by expressing an effector or reporter gene in a specific subset of neuronal tissue (Endo et. al 2011). The inherent limitation of the Gal4/UAS system is its inability to simultaneously drive the expression of one subset of transgenes in one subset of cells, while expressing a distinct set of transgenes in a different subset of cells. Thus, to overcome this obstacle, we constructed another binary transcriptional system using the bacterial LexA DNA binding domain linked to the hinge region and Gal4 transactivation domain (denoted as LexA::LHG). Since Gal4 and LexA independently bind to their respective promoters, these two binary transcription systems can be used in unison to conduct more intricate experiments that examine tissue-tissue interactions.
We generated more than a hundred LexA::LHG enhancer trap lines and subsequently studied expression patterns exhibited in Drosophila 3rd instar larvae, with an initial focus on the larval brain. We observed unique expression patterns in neuronal, myocardial, gut and insulin-producing (IPC) cells.
The molecular location and expression data for these enhancer trap lines have been curated into the StanEx database and made freely accessible to the public (URL: http://stanex.stanford.edu). By generating these LexA enhancer trap strains, we aim to provide the scientific community with a novel tool that can be used orthogonally to the Gal4/UAS system in order to study the anatomy and function of the Drosophila nervous system.
StanEx is a biological database that stores the expression patterns and molecular locations of more than a hundred different Drosophila melanogaster enhancer trap lines that utilize the LexA-LexAop system. These enhancer traps utilize a novel StanEx p-element containing a Pprom-LHG construct. The StanEx database exhibits unparalleled scalability in both size and function because it was programmed on a Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework. Users can interrogate the molecular and expression data in more than five ways. StanEx is interfaced with other popularly used Drosophila databases like FlyBase and Ensemble. By providing novel molecular and expression sets of data, along with the inquiry functions to interrogate this data, StanEx aims to provide geneticists with a novel tool to aid in research.
Database Functionality/User Interface
- Search Functions
- Search by EXPRESSION
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Database Developer: Lutfi Huq - Cornell University - (See Contact page)