Tracking Cells in GFP-transgenic Zebrafish Using the Photoconvertible PSmOrange System

Beretta, C.A., Dross, N., Engel, U., Carl, M.
Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE   (108): e53604 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Beretta, Carlo, Carl, Matthias
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Cell Tracking
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics*
  • Luminescent Proteins/chemistry*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA, Messenger/genetics*
  • Zebrafish/embryology*
26891031 Full text @ J. Vis. Exp.
The rapid development of transparent zebrafish embryos (Danio rerio) in combination with fluorescent labelings of cells and tissues allows visualizing developmental processes as they happen in the living animal. Cells of interest can be labeled by using a tissue specific promoter to drive the expression of a fluorescent protein (FP) for the generation of transgenic lines. Using fluorescent photoconvertible proteins for this purpose additionally allows to precisely follow defined structures within the expression domain. Illuminating the protein in the region of interest, changes its emission spectrum and highlights a particular cell or cell cluster leaving other transgenic cells in their original color. A major limitation is the lack of known promoters for a large number of tissues in the zebrafish. Conversely, gene- and enhancer trap screens have generated enormous transgenic resources discretely labeling literally all embryonic structures mostly with GFP or to a lesser extend red or yellow FPs. An approach to follow defined structures in such transgenic backgrounds would be to additionally introduce a ubiquitous photoconvertible protein, which could be converted in the cell(s) of interest. However, the photoconvertible proteins available involve a green and/or less frequently a red emission state(1) and can therefore often not be used to track cells in the FP-background of existing transgenic lines. To circumvent this problem, we have established the PSmOrange system for the zebrafish(2,3). Simple microinjection of synthetic mRNA encoding a nuclear form of this protein labels all cell nuclei with orange/red fluorescence. Upon targeted photoconversion of the protein, it switches its emission spectrum to far red. The quantum efficiency and stability of the protein makes PSmOrange a superb cell-tracking tool for zebrafish and possibly other teleost species.
Genes / Markers
Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes