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Pigment Cell Res. 1997 Jun;10(3):168-75.

Transgenic medaka fish bearing the mouse tyrosinase gene: expression and transmission of the transgene following electroporation of the orange-colored variant.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Keio University, Hiyoshi, Yokohama, Japan.


Transgenic fish bearing the mouse tyrosinase gene (mg-Tyrs-J) were produced by transfection into fertilized eggs of the homozygous normal orange-colored variant of medaka fish, Oryzias latipes, by means of electroporation. Of 589 eggs transfected, 38 fish (6%) exhibited brownish wild-type skin pigmentation, which was discernible from control siblings. Light microscopy of the skin from the founders thus generated disclosed that 1) melanization occurred and was restricted to melanophores formed presumably from pre-existing amelanotic melanophores, 2) there was a wide variation in the degree of melanization observed among melanophores, and 3) no melanin deposition was recognized in xanthophores or leucophores. Immunofluorescence using an antibody raised against mouse tyrosinase disclosed that melanophores at varying stages of maturation were reactive. Thus, it was shown that the transgene in medaka fish expressed its action in a cell type-specific manner. Crossing of transgenic founders with homozygous orange-colored variant fish yielded two groups of offspring expressing either the wild-type or the orange-colored skin pigmentation at an approximate ratio of 1:1. Crossing between founders exhibiting wild-type pigmentation yielded only offspring with melanized skin. Skin melanophores in these offspring formed vertical stripes, which are rare in this species. The hereditary basis of melanized skin was demonstrated in matings of F1 progenies, which resulted in similar degrees of melanization over whole skin melanophores. The sum of these findings implied that the transgene is expressed as a dominant character gene and is transmitted through germ cell lines according to the Mendelian law. PCR analysis combined with nested PCR technique strongly suggested that the transgene was integrated into the medaka genome, even though the copy number deduced from gel banding was largely diminished, possibly as a result of fragmentation or instability within the medaka genome.

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