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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The permeability of Drosophila melanogaster embryos Watson, Catherine E.


Drosophila are used extensively for genetic, developmental and now molecular biology research. At present, germline transformation of these organisms can only be achieved by microinjection of P-element vectors into the pole cells of young embryos. The technique of microinjection however, requires a delicate touch and is quite laborious. Therefore, the development of a rapid and simple technique was investigated. Electroporation, like microinjection, is a physical means of introducing DNA into a cell and is therefore potentially applicable to all cell types. Electroporation involves the use of an electrical current to create pores in the membrane of a cell. Macromolecules, such as DNA may enter a cell via these pores. Electroporation is a quick, reproducible, and efficient method for transforming cells. Through studies of the survival and permeability of Drosophila melanogaster embryos exposed to electrical currents, it was discovered that although the survival of the embryos decreased steadily as field strength increased, the embryos did not become permeable to a water soluble dye unless a pulse of 10 kV/cm was applied. Few embryos survived this extreme voltage required for dye uptake. Attempts to introduce DNA into dechorionated Drosophila embryos utilizing this technique however, produced no transformants. These results suggested that the remaining protective coatings of the dechorionated embryo were obstructing efficient pore formation, thus preventing DNA penetration. In view of these results, methods to eliminate the wax layer, present between the chorion and vitelline membrane of laid eggs, were examined. Wax removal by detergent solubilization, solvent extraction and melting by heating were investigated, yet did not produce a satisfactory procedure.

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