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Nat Protoc. 2006;1(3):1248-57.

Using phiC31 integrase to make transgenic Xenopus laevis embryos.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Bowen Science Building, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


Bacteriophage phiC31 produces the enzyme integrase that allows the insertion of the phage genome into its bacterial host. This enzyme recognizes a specific DNA sequence in the phage (attP) and a different sequence in the bacterium (attB). Recombination between these sites leads to integration in a reaction that requires no accessory factors. Seminal studies by the Calos laboratory demonstrated that the phiC31 integrase was capable of integrating plasmid with an attB site into mammalian genomes at sites that approximated the attP site. We describe the use of attB-containing plasmids with insulated reporter genes for the successful integration of DNA into Xenopus embryos. The method offers a way to produce transgenic embryos without manipulation of sperm nuclei using microinjection methods that are standard for experiments in Xenopus laevis. The method aims to allow the non-mosaic controlled expression of new genetic material in the injected embryo and compares favorably with the time that is normally taken to analyze embryos injected with mRNAs, plasmids, morpholinos or oligonucleotides.

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