Microinjection for Transgenesis and Genome Editing in Threespine Sticklebacks

J Vis Exp. 2016 May 13;(111):54055. doi: 10.3791/54055.


The threespine stickleback fish has emerged as a powerful system to study the genetic basis of a wide variety of morphological, physiological, and behavioral phenotypes. The remarkably diverse phenotypes that have evolved as marine populations adapt to countless freshwater environments, combined with the ability to cross marine and freshwater forms, provide a rare vertebrate system in which genetics can be used to map genomic regions controlling evolved traits. Excellent genomic resources are now available, facilitating molecular genetic dissection of evolved changes. While mapping experiments generate lists of interesting candidate genes, functional genetic manipulations are required to test the roles of these genes. Gene regulation can be studied with transgenic reporter plasmids and BACs integrated into the genome using the Tol2 transposase system. Functions of specific candidate genes and cis-regulatory elements can be assessed by inducing targeted mutations with TALEN and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing reagents. All methods require introducing nucleic acids into fertilized one-cell stickleback embryos, a task made challenging by the thick chorion of stickleback embryos and the relatively small and thin blastomere. Here, a detailed protocol for microinjection of nucleic acids into stickleback embryos is described for transgenic and genome editing applications to study gene expression and function, as well as techniques to assess the success of transgenesis and recover stable lines.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Editing*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Genome
  • Microinjections
  • Smegmamorpha*