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Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Feb;19(2):153-6.

Automated sorting of live transgenic embryos.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Beckman Center B300, 279 Campus Drive, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5329, USA.


The vast selection of Drosophila mutants is an extraordinary resource for exploring molecular events underlying development and disease. We have designed and constructed an instrument that automatically separates Drosophila embryos of one genotype from a larger population of embryos, based on a fluorescent protein marker. This instrument can also sort embryos from other species, such as Caenorhabditis elegans. The machine sorts 15 living Drosophila embryos per second with more than 99% accuracy. Sorting living embryos will solve longstanding problems, including (1) the need for large quantities of RNA from homozygous mutant embryos to use in DNA microarray or gene-chip experiments, (2) the need for large amounts of protein extract from homozygous mutant embryos for biochemical studies, for example to determine whether a multiprotein complex forms or localizes correctly in vivo when one component is missing, and (3) the need for rapid genetic screening for gene expression changes in living embryos using a fluorescent protein reporter.

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