Inducible gene expression in transgenic Xenopus embryos

Grant N. Wheeler, Fiona S Hamilton, Stefan Hoppler

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63 Citations (Scopus)


The amphibian Xenopus laevis has been successfully used for many years as a model system for studying vertebrate development. Because of technical limitations, however, molecular investigations have mainly concentrated on early stages. We have developed a straightforward method for stage-specific induction of gene expression in transgenic Xenopus embryos [1] [2]. This method is based on the Xenopus heat shock protein 70 (Xhsp70 [3]) promoter driving the expression of desired gene products. We found that ubiquitous expression of the transgene is induced upon relatively mild heat treatment. Green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used as a marker to monitor successful induction of gene expression in transgenic embryos. We used this method to study the stage specificity of Wnt signalling function. Transient ectopic Wnt-8 expression during early neurulation was sufficient to repress anterior head development and this capacity was restricted to early stages of neurulation. By transient over-expression at different stages of development, we show that frizzled-7 disrupted morphogenesis sequentially from anterior to posterior along the dorsal axis as development proceeds. These results demonstrate that this method for inducible gene expression in transgenic Xenopus embryos will be a very powerful tool for temporal analysis of gene function and for studying molecular mechanisms of vertebrate organogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-852
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2000


  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Phenotype
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Signal Transduction
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Xenopus laevis
  • Zebrafish Proteins

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