We describe the use of a DNA construct (named GFP.RN3) encoding green fluorescent protein as a lineage marker for Xenopus embryos. This offers the following advantages over other lineage markers so far used in Xenopus. When injected as synthetic mRNA, its protein emits intense fluorescence in living embryos. It is non-toxic, and the fluorescence does not bleach when viewed under 480 nm light. It is surprisingly stable, being strongly visible up to the feeding tadpole stage (5 days), and in some tissues for several weeks after mRNA injection. We also describe a construct that encodes a blue fluorescent protein. We exemplify the use of this GFP.RN3 construct for marking the lineage of individual blastomeres at the 32- to 64-cell stage, and as a marker for single transplanted blastula cells. Both procedures have revealed that the descendants of one embryonic cell can contribute single muscle cells to nearly all segmental myotomes rather than predominantly to any one myotome. An independent aim of our work has been to follow the fate of cells in which an early regulatory gene has been temporarily overexpressed. For this purpose, we co-injected GFP.RN3 mRNA and mRNA for the early Xenopus gene Eomes, and found that a high concentration of Eomes results in ectopic muscle gene activation in only the injected cells. This marker may therefore be of general value in providing long term identification of those cells in which an early gene with ephemeral expression has been overexpressed.
An indelible lineage marker for Xenopus using a mutated green fluorescent protein
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M. Zernicka-Goetz, J. Pines, K. Ryan, K.R. Siemering, J. Haseloff, M.J. Evans, J.B. Gurdon; An indelible lineage marker for Xenopus using a mutated green fluorescent protein. Development 1 December 1996; 122 (12): 3719–3724. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.122.12.3719
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