In vivo gene transfer in mouse preimplantation embryos after intraoviductal injection of plasmid DNA and subsequent in vivo electroporation.
ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to investigate whether direct injection of nonviral DNA into the oviductal lumen and subsequent in vivo electroporation leads to in vivo gene transfer in mouse preimplantation embryos present within an oviduct, as an alternative to the pre-existing pronuclear microinjection-based transgenesis. With this technique, effects of expression of the gene of interest (GOI) on mouse preimplantation development can be monitored with relative ease. Superovulated 4-week-old B6C3F1 female mice (hybrids between C57BL/6N and C3H/HeN) were mated with adult B6C3F1 male mice. Two days later, females that had been identified as pregnant, based on the presence of copulation plugs, were injected with 1 µl of a solution containing an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) expression plasmid (0.5 µg) and 0.05% trypan blue. The entire oviduct was then electroporated using tweezer-type electrodes with 8 square-wave pulses of 50 V each with 50-ms duration. The next day, the 8-cell stage embryos were collected, and their number, morphology, and EGFP-derived fluorescence were recorded. Of the 12 oviducts (6 females used) examined, 3 contained fluorescent 8-cell stage embryos (33%, 19/58 tested), but the intensity of fluorescence varied among the embryos. In total, 10% (19/192 tested) of the embryos were fluorescent and the fluorescence was maintained in these embryos after 1 day of culture. However, the fluorescence disappeared in the late gestational stage fetuses, and the transgenes could not be detected. Our results indicate that it is possible to transfect in vivo preimplantation embryos, although the success rate appears to be relatively low and gene expression is transient. This technology may provide a new method for manipulating preimplantation embryos in vivo, by using, for example, Cre-mediated conditional DNA recombination.