Analyzing gene regulation in ascidian embryos: New tools for new perspectives

Anna Di Gregorio, Michael Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Ascidians are marine protochordates at the evolutionary boundary between invertebrates and vertebrates. Ascidian larvae provide a simple system for unraveling gene regulation networks underlying the formation of the basic chordate body plan. After being used for over a century as a model for embryological studies, ascidians have become, in the past decade, an increasingly popular organism for studying gene regulation. Part of the renewed appeal of this system is the use of electroporation to introduce transgenic DNAs into developing embryos. This method is considerably more efficient than conventional microinjection assays and permits the simultaneous transformation of hundreds of embryos. Electroporation has allowed the identification and characterization of cis-regulatory DNAs that mediate gene expression in a variety of tissues, including the notochord, tail muscles, CNS, and endoderm. Electroporation has also provided a simple method for mis-expressing patterning genes and producing dominant mutant phenotypes. Recent studies have used electroporation to create "knock-out" phenotypes by over-expressing dominant negative forms of particular proteins. Here we review the past and present uses of electroporation in ascidian development, and speculate on potential future uses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Ascidian
  • Body plan
  • Electroporation
  • Gene regulation
  • Transgenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Analyzing gene regulation in ascidian embryos: New tools for new perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this