Cell type specific, traceable gene silencing for functional gene analysis during vertebrate neural development

Nicole H Wilson, Esther T Stoeckli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many genes have several, sometimes divergent functions during development. Therefore, timing of gene knockdown for functional analysis during development has to be done with precise temporal control, as loss of a gene's function at early stages prevents its analysis later in development. RNAi, in combination with the accessibility of chicken embryos, is an effective approach for temporally controlled analysis of gene function during neural development. Here, we describe novel plasmid vectors that contain cell type-specific promoters/enhancers to drive the expression of a fluorescent marker, followed directly by a miR30-RNAi transcript for gene silencing. These vectors allow for direct tracing of cells experiencing gene silencing by the bright fluorescence. The level of knockdown is sufficient to reproduce the expected pathfinding defects upon perturbation of genes with known axon guidance functions. Mixing different vectors prior to electroporation enables the simultaneous knockdown of multiple genes in independent regions of the spinal cord. This permits complex cellular and molecular interactions to be examined during development, in a fast and precise manner. The advancements of the in ovo RNAi technique that we describe will not only markedly enhance functional gene analysis in the chicken, but also could be adapted to other organisms in developmental studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e133
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • Neural Tube
  • Neurons
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Spinal Cord

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