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Proceedings of the Australian Physiological and Pharmacological Society Symposium: New Frontiers in Muscle Research

Gene transfer: manipulating and monitoring function in cells and tissues

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1. The ectopic expression of genes has proven to be an extremely valuable tool for biologists. The most widely used systems involve electrically or chemically mediated transfer of genes to immortalized cell lines and, at the other end of the spectrum, transgenic animal models. As would be expected, there are compromises to be made when using either of these broad approaches. Immortalized cell lines have limited ‘physiological relevance’ and transgenic approaches are costly and out of the reach of many laboratories. There is also significant time required for the de novo generation of a transgenic animal.

2. As a viable alternative to these approaches, we describe the use of recombinant adenovirus and Sindbis virus to deliver genes to cells and tissues.

3. We exemplify this approach with studies from our laboratories: (i) an investigation of Ca2+ handling deficits in cardiac myocytes of hypertrophied hearts using infection with recombinant adenovirus encoding either green fluorescent protein (GFP) or the sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum calcium-ATPase (Serca2a); (ii) a study of the mechanism of macrophage/microglial migration by infection of embryonic phagocytes with a GFP-encoding virus and coculture with brain slices to then track the movement of labelled cells; and (iii) we are also exploiting the natural tropism of the Sindbis virus to label neurons in hippocampal brain slices in culture to resolve high-resolution structure and to map neuronal connectivity.

4. Further development of these approaches should open new avenues of investigation for the study of physiology in a range of cells and tissues.
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Keywords: Sindbis virus; adenovirus; gene transfer; green fluorescent protein; physiology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Biophysics and Molecular Physiology and Confocal and Fluorescence Imaging Group, Department of Physiology, and 2: Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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