Laser capture microdissection of fluorescently labeled embryonic cranial neural crest cells

Vasker Bhattacherjee, Partha Mukhopadhyay, Saurabh Singh, Emily A Roberts, Rita C Hackmiller, Robert M Greene, M Michele Pisano
Genesis: the Journal of Genetics and Development 2004, 39 (1): 58-64
This study is the first to report a unique genetic strategy to permanently label mammalian neural crest cells (NCC) with a fluorescent marker, selectively isolate the labeled NCC or their derivatives during murine ontogenesis by laser capture microdissection (LCM), and prepare molecular components, such as RNA, for selective gene expression analyses. Through utilization of a Cre recombinase/loxP system, a genetic strategy that has been used repeatedly to achieve tissue-specific activation of reporter transgenes in mice, a novel two-component mouse model was created in which neural crest cells (and their progeny) are indelibly marked throughout the pre- and postnatal lifespan of the organism. To generate this mouse model, a Wnt1-Cre transgenic line was crossed with a mouse line expressing a conditional reporter transgene ("floxed" enhanced green fluorescent protein). Resulting offspring, expressing both the Wnt1-Cre and "floxed" EGFP alleles, demonstrated EGFP expression in the NCC and all of their derivatives throughout embryonic, postnatal, and adult stages. In the present study, EGFP-labeled cranial NCC from the first branchial arch of gestational day 9.5 murine embryos were visualized in frozen tissue sections and isolated by LCM under epifluorescence optics. RNA was extracted from "captured" cells and amplified by double-stranded cDNA synthesis and in vitro transcription. Amplified mRNA samples from "captured" cells were evaluated by TaqMan quantitative, real-time PCR for the expression of a panel of NCC gene markers. The molecular genetic strategy delineated in this report will facilitate future embryo-genomic and -proteomic analyses of mammalian NCC that will serve to further our understanding of these pluripotent embryonic progenitor cells.

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