Background: The amenability of the chick embryo to a variety of manipulations has made it an ideal experimental model organism for over 100 years. The ability to manipulate gene function via in ovo electroporations has further revolutionized its value as an experimental model in the last 15 years. Although in ovo electroporations are simple to conduct in embryos ≥ E2, in ovo electroporations at early E1 stages have proven to be technically challenging due to the tissue damage and embryonic lethality such electroporations produce.
Results and conclusions: Here we report our success with in vivo microelectroporations of E1 embryos as young as Hamburger-Hamilton Stage 4 (HH4). We provide evidence that such electroporations can be varied in size and can be spatially targeted. They cause minimal disruption of tissue-size, 3-dimensional morphology, cell survival, proliferation, and cell-fate specification. Our paradigm is easily adapted to a variety of experimental conditions since it does not depend upon the presence of a lumen to enclose the DNA solution during electroporation. It is thus compatible with the in vivo examination of E1 morphogenetic events (e.g., neural tube closure) where preservation of 3-dimensional morphology is critical.
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