Transfection of newt blastema mesenchyme using the techniques of lipofection and direct gene transfer
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The regenerating amphibian limb provides a useful system for studying genes involved in the establishment of positional information. While a number of candidate genes that may playa role in pattern formation have been identified, their function in vivo is unknown in this system. To better ascertain the role of these genes, it would be useful to be able to alter their normal patterns of expression in vivo and to assess the effects of this misexpression on limb pattern. In order to achieve this, a method of introducing a plasmid containing the eDNA of a gene of interest into a newt blastema (a growth zone of mesenchymal progenitor cells) is needed. Unfortunately, most commonly used transfection techniques cannot be used with newt blastema cells. In this study, I have used the techniques of lipofection and direct gene transfer to introduce plasmid DNA containing reporter genes into the cells of a regenerating newt limb. The technique of lipofection was most effective when the blastema cells were transfected in vitro. The optimal ratio for transfection was shown to be 1:3 DNA:Lipofectin (W/w) , and an increase in the amount of DNA present in the mixture (1:3 ratio maintained) resulted in a corresponding increase in gene expression. The technique of direct gene transfer was used to transfect newt blastema cells with and without prior complex formation with Lipofectin. Injection of plasmid DNA alone provided the most 3 promising results. It was possible to introduce plasmid DNA containing the reporter gene ~-galactosidase and achieve significant gene expression in cells associated with the injection site. In the future, it would be interesting to use this technique to inject plasmid DNA containing a gene which may have a role in pattern formation into specific areas of the newt blastema and to analyze the resulting limb pattern that emerges.