Although we have advanced in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms intrinsic to the morphogenesis of chordate embryos, the question of how individual developmental events are integrated to generate the final morphological form is still unresolved. Microscopic observation is a pivotal tool in developmental biology, both for determining the normal course of events and for contrasting this with the results of experimental and pathological perturbations. Since embryonic development takes place in three dimensions over time, to fully understand the events required to build an embryo we must investigate embryo morphogenesis in multiple dimensions in situ. Recent advances in the isolation of naturally fluorescent proteins, and the refinement of techniques for in vivo microscopy offer unprecedented opportunities to study the cellular and molecular events within living, intact embryos using optical imaging. These technologies allow direct visual access to complex events as they happen in their native environment, and thus provide greater insights into cell behaviors operating during embryonic development. Since most fluorescent protein probes and modes of data acquisition are common across species, we have chosen the mouse and the ascidian, two model organisms at opposite ends of the chordate clade, to review the use of some of the current genetically-encoded fluorescent proteins and their visualization in vivo in living embryos for the generation of high-resolution imaging data.
- Embryonic stem cells
- Fluorescent proteins
- Transgenic embryo
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medical Laboratory Technology