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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Aug 1;90(15):7322-6.

Thyroid hormone-dependent transcriptional regulation of exogenous genes transferred into Xenopus tadpole muscle in vivo.

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  • 1Laboratoire de physiologie génerale et comparée, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France.


Metamorphosis in amphibians is marked by dramatic thyroid hormone-induced changes that include tail regression. To examine thyroid hormone effects on gene transcription during the early stages of tail resorption, we injected exogenous genes directly into the caudal skeletal muscle of Xenopus tadpoles and followed their expression in vivo. Gene expression was both strong and reproducible, and it correlated with the amount of DNA injected. Moreover, expression continued as long as the animals were blocked in prometamorphosis by antithyroid drugs (for up to 4 months). Thyroid hormone-dependent effects on transcription were examined by using a palindromic thyroid hormone response element linked to a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene. Reporter gene expressions were normalized for transfection efficiency by using a constitutively expressed luciferase construct. Physiological concentrations of 3,5,3' triiodo-L-thyronine (1 nM), applied for 120 hr, produced a 5-fold increase in transcription (P < 0.05) from the thyroid hormone response element but did not modify transcription from constitutive viral promoters. This study thus demonstrates that by directly expressing genes in Xenopus tadpole muscle in vivo, one can exploit the powerful experimental advantages of gene transfer systems in an intact, physiologically normal animal.

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