Morpholino Studies in Xenopus Brain Development
Antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MOs) have become a valuable method to knockdown protein levels, to block with mRNA splicing and to interfere with miRNA function. MOs are widely used to alter gene expression in development of Xenopus and Zebrafish, where they are typically injected into the fertilized egg or blastomeres. Here we present methods to use electroporation to target delivery of MOs to the central nervous system of Xenopus laevis or Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles. Briefly, MO electroporation is accomplished by injecting MO solution into the brain ventricle and driving the MOs into cells of the brain with current passing between 2 platinum plate electrodes, positioned on either side of the target brain area. The method is relatively straightforward and uses standard equipment found in many neuroscience labs. A major advantage of electroporation is that it allows spatial and temporal control of MO delivery and therefore knockdown. Co-electroporation of MOs with cell type-specific fluorescent protein expression plasmids allows morphological analysis of cellular phenotypes. Furthermore, co-electroporation of MOs with rescuing plasmids allows assessment of specificity of the knockdown and phenotypic outcome. By combining MO-mediated manipulations with sophisticated assays of neuronal function, such as electrophysiological recording, behavioral assays, or in vivo time-lapse imaging of neuronal development, the functions of specific proteins and miRNAs within the developing nervous system can be elucidated. These methods can be adapted to apply antisense morpholinos to study protein and RNA function in a variety of complex tissues.
KeywordsXenopus Electroporation Morpholino oligonucleotide Antisense Knockdown In vivo imaging Neuron Brain CNS phenotype
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