The viral gene transfer core was established in 2008 by the Picower Institute and the McGovern Institute to make viral vectors accessible to the MIT neuroscience community. Directed by Rachael Neve, its overall goals are to provide the most advanced viral vector technologies, and to drive the development of new applications that will benefit neuroscience research.
Viral vectors are a key technology for neuroscience research, allowing delivery of genes into the brain to manipulate brain function. In addition to their speed and cost advantages, viruses can be delivered with spatial and temporal specificity, and in some cases can be engineered to produce cell-type specificity of expression. Importantly, viruses can also be used for genetic manipulation of species for which germ-line transgenic methods are not feasible.
Different viral vectors have different strengths and weaknesses, so the vector of choice may vary by experiment. For most in vivo applications, injection volumes are limited and so high titers are important. The production of viruses requires special expertise, and given the range of vectors now available, it is not easy for individual labs to develop the necessary expertise to take full advantage of these technologies.
The core currently offers HSV and BacMam vectors, including packaging, vector construction and advisory consultations. The core also offers AAV packaging through an external provider, Virovek, with whom the core has negotiated a discount.
A variety of useful HSV-based constructs (eg with cell type-specific promoters and a variety of reporters) are available and new ones are added frequently.
The core operates as a fee-for-service facility, in accordance with MIT policies for core facilities. Its primary purpose is to serve the MIT neuroscience community, but some services are also available to external academic or corporate users. Please refer to the Services and Ordering page for details.
The core occupies a 530-sq-ft laboratory on the 6th floor of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex. For more information please contact the director, Rachael Neve.