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Dev Biol. 2007 May 15;305(2):616-24. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Stable integration and conditional expression of electroporated transgenes in chicken embryos.

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  • 1Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, 8916-5, Takayama, Ikoma, Nara, 630-0192, Japan.

Abstract

The in ovo electroporation in chicken embryos has widely been used as a powerful tool to study roles of genes during embryogenesis. However, the conventional electroporation technique fails to retain the expression of transgenes for more than several days because transgenes are not integrated into the genome. To overcome this shortcoming, we have developed a transposon-mediated gene transfer, a novel technique in chicken manipulations. It was previously reported that the transposon Tol2, originally found in medaka fish, facilitates an integration of a transgene into the genome when co-acting with Tol2 transposase. In this study, we co-electroporated a plasmid containing a CAGGS-EGFP cassette cloned in the Tol2 construct along with a transposase-encoding plasmid into early presomitic mesoderm or optic vesicles of chicken embryos. This resulted in persistent expression of EGFP at least until embryonic day 8 (E8) and E12 in somite-derived tissues and developing retina, respectively. The integration of the transgene was confirmed by genomic Southern blotting using chicken cultured cells. We further combined this transposon-mediated gene transfer with the tetracycline-dependent conditional expression system that we also developed recently. With this combined method, expression of a stably integrated transgene could be experimentally induced upon tetracycline administration at relatively late stages such as E6, where a variety of organogenesis are underway. Thus, the techniques proposed in this study provide a novel approach to study the mechanisms of late organogenesis, for which chickens are most suitable model animals.

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