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J Neurosci Res. 1990 Jan;25(1):50-7.

Expression of transfected genes by differentiated, postmitotic neurons and photoreceptors in primary cell cultures.

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Wilmer Institute, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.


We report here that differentiated, primary, postmitotic neurons and photoreceptors in cultures obtained from embryonic chicks can express foreign genes after transfection by the calcium phosphate method. A variety of viral promoters were tested by using either beta-galactosidase or chloramphenicol acetyltransferase as reporter genes. Histochemical and immunocytochemical analysis showed beta-galactosidase expression by both neurons and photoreceptors. As commonly observed with dividing cells, transfection efficiencies showed inter-experimental variability, with efficiencies ranging from 2% to 20% using the same plasmid. On the other hand, intra-experimental variability between replicate dishes was much smaller. Analysis using the highly sensitive enzymatic assay for chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) showed that all of the promoter/enhancers-CAT constructs tested, with the exception of a construct containing the Maloney sarcoma virus promoter, led to the expression of detectable activity when transfected into cultured retinal cells. The calcium phosphate treatment used for cell transfection did not show detectable effects on overall cell survival, although it caused selective decreases in some metabolic activities of the cells. The studies demonstrate that it is possible to obtain expression of genes transfected into primary, postmitotic neuronal cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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