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Dev Biol. 2008 May 1;317(1):13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.01.031. Epub 2008 Feb 7.

Integrating technologies for comparing 3D gene expression domains in the developing chick limb.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Dundee, Dow Street, Dundee, UK.


Chick embryos are good models for vertebrate development due to their accessibility and manipulability. Recent large increases in available genomic data from both whole genome sequencing and EST projects provide opportunities for identifying many new developmentally important chicken genes. Traditional methods of documenting when and where specific genes are expressed in embryos using whole amount and section in-situ hybridisation do not readily allow appreciation of 3-dimensional (3D) patterns of expression, but this can be accomplished by the recently developed microscopy technique, Optical Projection Tomography (OPT). Here we show that OPT data on the developing chick wing from different labs can be reliably integrated into a common database, that OPT is efficient in capturing 3D gene expression domains and that such domains can be meaningfully compared. Novel protocols are used to compare 3D expression domains of 7 genes known to be involved in chick wing development. This reveals previously unappreciated relationships and demonstrates the potential, using modern genomic resources, for building a large scale 3D atlas of gene expression. Such an atlas could be extended to include other types of data, such as fate maps, and the approach is also more generally applicable to embryos, organs and tissues.

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