Department of Biological Sciences, Oakland University
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Iordanou, E., Chandran, R. R., Blackstone, N., Jiang, L. RNAi Interference by dsRNA Injection into Drosophila Embryos. J. Vis. Exp. (50), e2477, doi:10.3791/2477 (2011).
Genetic screening is one of the most powerful methods available for gaining insights into complex biological process 1. Over the years many improvements and tools for genetic manipulation have become available in Drosophila 2. Soon after the initial discovery by Frie and Mello 3 that double stranded RNA can be used to knockdown the activity of individual genes in Caenorhabditis elegans, RNA interference (RNAi) was shown to provide a powerful reverse genetic approach to analyze gene functions in Drosophila organ development 4, 5.
Many organs, including lung, kidney, liver, and vascular system, are composed of branched tubular networks that transport vital fluids or gases 6, 7. The analysis of Drosophila tracheal formation provides an excellent model system to study the morphogenesis of other tubular organs 8. The Berkeley Drosophila genome project has revealed hundreds of genes that are expressed in the tracheal system. To study the molecular and cellular mechanism of tube formation, the challenge is to understand the roles of these genes in tracheal development. Here, we described a detailed method of dsRNA injection into Drosophila embryo to knockdown individual gene expression. We successfully knocked down endogenous dysfusion(dys) gene expression by dsRNA injection. Dys is a bHLH-PAS protein expressed in tracheal fusion cells, and it is required for tracheal branch fusion 9, 10. dys-RNAi completely eliminated dys expression and resulted in tracheal fusion defect. This relatively simple method provides a tool to identify genes requried for tissure and organ development in Drosophila.
1. Embryo Collection
2. Pulling Needle
Make microinjection needles by pulling glass capillary tubes. We use a needle puller from World Precision Instrument (Model PUL-1). The needle puller program specifications are: heat: 1,delay 4.
3. Filling the Needles
Back-load needles using the Eppendorf p20 pipette fitted with Eppendorf Microloader tips, normally load 1.5-2 μL dsRNA
4. Break the Needles
6. Phenotypic Analysis
7. Representative Results:
An example of dsRNA knock down dysfusion (dys) gene in Drosophlia embryo is shown in Fig1. GFP-dsRNA injected embryos are the negative control. Dys is a bHLH PAS transcription factor expressed in tracheal fusion cells. GFP-dsRNA injected embryos show normal tracheal fusion, and Dys protein is present in fusion cells (Figure 1A). On the other hand, dys-dsRNA injected embryos show failed branch fusion, and Dys proteins are not present in fusion cells (Figure 1B). When dsRNA injected embryos develop to larval stage, the dys-dsRNA injected larvae showed failed branch fusion (Fig.1D) compared to GFP- dsRNA injected negative control (Figure 1C). These results showed effective knock down of endogenous dys gene expression by dsRNA injection into Drosophila embryos
Figure 1. Removal of dys function by dys-RNAi reveals tracheal fusion defects. Blastoderm embryos (w1118) were injected with either GFP-dsRNA (negative control) or dys-dsRNA and assayed for tracheal defects. (A) Stage 16 embryo injected with GFP-dsRNA and stained with α-Dys and MAb 2A12 that stains the tracheal lumen. Prominently shown is the lateral trunk, which has fused. Arrows point to lateral trunk Dys-positive fusion cells. (B) Stage 16 embryo injected with dys-dsRNA and stained with α-Dys and MAb 2A12. The embryo showed a lack of lateral trunk fusion (the asterisk indicates the normal location of a lateral-trunk fusion in control embryos). No Dys-positive cells were observed, indicating that the dys-RNA effectively abolished Dys protein. (C to D) Second-instar larvae with either GFP-dsRNA or dys-dsRNA were examined by bright-field microscopy for tracheal defects. (C) Sites of fusion are indicated by an asterisk in GFP-dsRNA injected control larvae. (D) The lateral trunk failed to fuse in the dys-RNA injected larvae, (*) indicates the normal location of a lateral trunk fusion.
The dsRNA injection method present here enables a very sensitive and rapid analysis of gene function in Drosophila tracheal development. This method can potentially be applied to analyze gene function for other tissue and organ development.
No conflicts of interest declared.
The authors would like to thank Stephen Crews for dysfusion cDNA, Dys antibody and w1118 flies.
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