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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Dec 1;88(23):10505-9.

Expression of Rous sarcoma virus-derived retroviral vectors in the avian blastoderm: potential as stable genetic markers.

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Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, CA 94720.


Retroviruses are valuable tools in studies of embryonic development, both as gene expression vectors and as cell lineage markers. In this study early chicken blastoderm cells are shown to be permissive for infection by Rous sarcoma virus and derivative replication-defective vectors, and, in contrast to previously published data, these cells will readily express viral genes. In cultured blastoderm cells, Rous sarcoma virus stably integrates and is transcribed efficiently, producing infectious virus particles. Using replication-defective vectors encoding the bacterial lacZ gene, we further show that blastoderms can be infected in culture and in ovo. In ovo, lacZ expression is seen within 24 hr of virus inoculation, and by 96 hr stably expressing clones of cells are observed in diverse tissues throughout the embryo, including epidermis, somites, and heart, as well as in extraembryonic membranes. Given the rapid onset of vector expression and the broad range of permissive cell types, it should be feasible to use Rous sarcoma virus-derived retroviruses as early lineage markers and expression vectors beginning at the blastoderm stage of avian embryogenesis.

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