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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Nov 8;102(45):16443-7. Epub 2005 Oct 31.

Generation of tissue-specific transgenic birds with lentiviral vectors.

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Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Birds are of great interest for a variety of research purposes, and effective methods for manipulating the avian genome would greatly accelerate progress in fields that rely on birds as model systems for biological research, such as developmental biology and behavioral neurobiology. Here, we describe a simple and effective method for producing transgenic birds. We used lentiviral vectors to produce transgenic quails that express GFP driven by the human synapsin gene I promoter. Expression of GFP was specific to neurons and consistent across multiple generations. Expression was sufficient to allow visualization of individual axons and dendrites of neurons in vivo by intrinsic GFP fluorescence. Tissue-specific transgene expression at high levels provides a powerful tool for biological research and opens new avenues for genetic manipulation in birds.

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