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Visualisation of chicken macrophages using transgenic reporter genes: insights into the development of the avian macrophage lineage

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3255-3265
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2014


We have generated the first transgenic chickens in which reporter genes are expressed in a specific immune cell lineage, based upon control elements of the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) locus. The Fms intronic regulatory element (FIRE) within CSF1R is shown to be highly conserved in amniotes and absolutely required for myeloid-restricted expression of fluorescent reporter genes. As in mammals, CSF1R-reporter genes were specifically expressed at high levels in cells of the macrophage lineage and at a much lower level in granulocytes. The cell lineage specificity of reporter gene expression was confirmed by demonstration of coincident expression with the endogenous CSF1R protein. In transgenic birds, expression of the reporter gene provided a defined marker for macrophage-lineage cells, identifying the earliest stages in the yolk sac, throughout embryonic development and in all adult tissues. The reporter genes permit detailed and dynamic visualisation of embryonic chicken macrophages. Chicken embryonic macrophages are not recruited to incisional wounds, but are able to recognise and phagocytose microbial antigens.

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