Inhibition of no tail (ntl) gene expression in zebrafish by external guide sequence (EGS) technique

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External guide sequence (EGS) technique, a branch of ribozyme strategy, can be enticed to cleave the target mRNA by forming a tRNA-like structure. In the present study, no tail gene (ntl), a key gene participating in the formation of normal tail, was used as a target for ribonuclease (RNase) P-mediated gene disruption in zebrafish in vivo. Transient expression of pH1-m3/4 ntl-EGS or pH1-3/4 ntl-EGS produced the full no tail phenotype at long-pec stage in proportion as 24 or 35%, respectively. As is expected that the full-length ntl mRNA of embryos at 50% epiboly stage decreased relative to control when injected the embryos with 3/4 EGS or m3/4 EGS RNA. Interestingly, ntl RNA transcripts, including the cleaved by EGS and the untouched, increased. Taken together, these results indicate that EGS strategy can work in zebrafish in vivo and becomes a potential tool for degradation of targeted mRNAs.

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