Light-induced local gene expression in primary chick cell culture system

Keiichi Kitajima, Naofumi Kawahira, Sang Woo Lee, Koji Tamura, Yoshihiro Morishita, Daisuke Ohtsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The ability to manipulate gene expression at a specific region in a tissue or cell culture system is critical for analysis of target gene function. For chick embryos/cells, several gene introduction/induction methods have been established such as those involving retrovirus, electroporation, sonoporation, and lipofection. However, these methods have limitations in the accurate induction of localized gene expression. Here we demonstrate the effective application of a recently developed light-dependent gene expression induction system (LightOn system) using the Neurospora crassa photoreceptor Vivid fused with a Gal4 DNA binding domain and p65 activation domain (GAVPO) that alters its activity in response to light stimulus in a primary chicken cell culture system. We show that the gene expression level and induction specificity in this system are strongly dependent on the light irradiation conditions. Especially, the irradiation interval is an important parameter for modulating gene expression; for shorter time intervals, higher induction specificity can be achieved. Further, by adjusting light irradiation conditions, the expression level in primary chicken cells can be regulated in a multiple step manner, in contrast to the binary expression seen for gene disruption or introduction (i.e., null or overexpression). This result indicates that the light-dependent expression control method can be a useful technique in chick models to examine how gene function is affected by gradual changes in gene expression levels. We applied this light induction system to regulate Sox9 expression in cultures of chick limb mesenchyme cells and showed that induced SOX9 protein could modulate expression of downstream genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-198
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment Growth and Differentiation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr


  • limb mesenchyme
  • live imaging
  • optogenetics
  • primary cell culture
  • Sox9


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