Single cell transfection in chick embryos

Raz Ben-Yair*, Chaya Kalcheim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A central theme in developmental biology is the diversification of lineages and the elucidation of underlying molecular mechanisms. This entails a thorough analysis of the fates of single cells under normal and experimental conditions. To this end, transfection methods that target single progenitors are a prerequisite. We describe here a technically straightforward method for transfecting single cells in chicken tissues in-ovo, allowing reliable lineage tracing as well as genetic manipulation. Specific tissue domains are targeted within the somite or neural tube, and DNA is injected directly into the epithelium of interest, resulting in sporadic transfection of single cells. Using reporters, clonal populations may consequently be traced for up to three days, and behavior of genetically manipulated clonal populations can be compared with that of controls. This method takes advantage of the accessibility of the chick embryo along with emerging tools for genetic manipulation. We compare and discuss its advantages over the widely-used electroporation method, and possible applications and use in additional in-vivo models are also suggested. We advocate the use of this method as a significant addition and complement for existing lineage tracing and genetic interference tools.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2133
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number43
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Avian embryo
  • Developmental Biology
  • Electroporation
  • Gene miss-expression
  • Issue 43
  • Lineage tracing
  • Micro-injection
  • Neural tube
  • Single-cell transfection
  • Somite


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