One of the key techniques in developmental biology is introducing transgenes into tissues and analyzing their subsequent effects on morphogenesis and organogenesis. In mammals, the transgenic approach is a way to misexpress foreign genes in various tissues and organs. However, targeting expression to certain tissues is totally dependent on the availability of specific promoters. Hence, it is not an easy task to control transgene expression temporally and spatially during embryogenesis. Further, if the transgene is toxic, embryonic development can be disrupted, resulting in premature death before the desired stages of development. As alternative systems, Xenopus and zebrafish are used frequently. In these vertebrate models, overexpression of genes can be carried out by injecting synthetic RNAs into eggs. However, genetic techniques in these systems are limited only to early development, prohibiting the precise analysis of gene effects on organogenesis in later stages. In contrast, the chick embryo has long served as a powerful and useful model system, holding a unique position in the field of developmental biology. Although trials of transgenic chicks have never been successful, easy accessibility to the developing embryo through a window opened in an eggshell enables performance of a variety of techniques, such as time-lapse cinephotomatography, microsurgical manipulations (including chick/quail chimeras), transplantation of cells and tissues, New's in vitro culture, etc. (Bortier et al., 1996; Douarin et al., 1996; Selleck, 1996). In addition to these experimental advantages, retrovirus-mediated gene delivery, and recently, adenovirus-mediated misexpression have been employed routinely in chick embryos (Leber et al., 1996; Morgan and Fekete, 1996).
- Gene delivery