Ex Utero Culture and Imaging of Mouse Embryos

  • Sonja Nowotschin
  • Vidur Garg
  • Anna Piliszek
  • Anna-Katerina HadjantonakisEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1920)


Mouse genetic approaches when combined with live imaging tools are revolutionizing our current understanding of mammalian developmental biology. The availability and improvement of a wide variety of genetically encoded fluorescent proteins have provided indispensable tools to visualize cells and subcellular features in living organisms. It is now possible to generate genetically modified mouse lines expressing several spectrally distinct fluorescent proteins in a tissue-specific or -inducible manner. Such reporter-expressing lines make it possible to image dynamic cellular behaviors in the context of living embryos undergoing normal or aberrant development. As with all viviparous mammals, mouse embryos develop within the uterus, and so live imaging experiments require culture conditions that closely mimic the in vivo environment. Over the past decades, significant advances have been made in developing conditions for culturing both pre- and postimplantation-stage mouse embryos. In this chapter, we discuss routine methods for ex utero culture of preimplantation- and postimplantation-stage mouse embryos. In particular, we describe protocols for collecting mouse embryos of various stages, setting up culture conditions for their ex utero culture and imaging, and using laser scanning confocal microscopy to visualize live processes in mouse embryos expressing fluorescent reporters.

Key words

Mouse embryo Ex utero culture Time-lapse Imaging Reporter Fluorescent protein GFP RFP Confocal 



We thank our present and past laboratory colleagues for helping perfect the techniques detailed in this chapter. Work in our laboratory is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01DK084391, R01HD094868, and P30CA008748) and The Starr Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja Nowotschin
    • 1
  • Vidur Garg
    • 1
  • Anna Piliszek
    • 2
  • Anna-Katerina Hadjantonakis
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Developmental Biology ProgramSloan Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Experimental EmbryologyInstitute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Polish Academy of SciencesJastrzębiecPoland

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