Generation of Chimeric Axolotls with Mutant Haploid Limbs Through Embryonic Grafting

This article has been accepted and is currently in production

Abstract

A growing set of genetic techniques and resources enable researchers to probe the molecular origins of the ability of some species of salamanders, such as axolotls, to regenerate entire limbs as adults. Here, we outline techniques used to generate chimeric axolotls with Cas9-mutagenized haploid forelimbs that can be used for exploring gene function and the fidelity of limb regeneration. We combine several embryological and genetic techniques, including haploid generation via in vitro activation, CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis, and tissue grafting into one protocol to produce a unique system for haploid genetic screening in a model organism of regeneration. This strategy reduces the number of animals, space, and time required for the functional analysis of genes in limb regeneration. This also permits the investigation of regeneration-specific functions of genes that may be required for other essential processes, such as organogenesis, tissue morphogenesis, and other essential embryonic processes. The method described here is a unique platform for conducting haploid genetic screening in a vertebrate model system.