Multibow: Digital Spectral Barcodes for Cell Tracing
We introduce a multicolor labeling strategy (Multibow) for cell tracing experiments in developmental and regenerative processes. Building on Brainbow-based approaches that produce colors by differential expression levels of different fluorescent proteins, Multibow adds a layer of label diversity by introducing a binary code in which reporters are initially OFF and then probabilistically ON or OFF following Cre recombination. We have developed a library of constructs that contains seven different colors and three different subcellular localizations. Combining constructs from this library in the presence of Cre generates cells labeled with multiple independently expressed colors based on if each construct is ON or OFF following recombination. These labels form a unique "barcode" that allows the tracking of the cell and its clonal progenies in addition to expression level differences of each color. We tested Multibow in zebrafish which validates its design concept and suggests its utility for cell tracing applications in development and regeneration.