Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)
Original Article

Expression of GFP in transgenic tilapia under the control of the medaka β-actin promoter: establishment of a model system for germ cell transplantation

R. Farlora, S. Kobayashi, L.R. França, S.R. Batlouni, S.M.S.N. Lacerda, G. Yoshizaki

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The Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) stands out as one of the most important fresh water edible fish, possessing remarkable characteristics that make it desirable for both commercial culture and as a laboratory model. For the utilization of tilapia in germ cell transplantation experiments, appropriate cell markers are required to evaluate the colonization behavior of donor-derived germ cells in recipient gonads. Here we report the production of a medaka β-actin/EGFP transgenic tilapia strain expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene in several tissues including germ cells in testis and ovary. Fluorescent observations in F2 generation transgenic individuals showed GFP positive cells along the body axis in pre-hatched embryos, while in hatching embryos the GFP gene was strongly expressed in the area surrounding the gills, operculum and in the cephalic region. In early larvae, fluorescent cells were scattered throughout the body, forming aggregations around the dorsal-cephalic and mouth areas. At 38 days post-fertilization, juvenile fish expressed the GFP homogeneously in the whole body. GFP fluorescence was also observed in caudal fins, muscle, and in several internal organs (gills, heart, testes, and ovaries) in 140 and 240 day F2 and F3 individuals. Immunohistochemistry using a monoclonal anti-GFP antibody in juvenile and adult gonads showed that both mitotic and meiotic germ cells were labeled with GFP. The utilization of this transgenic line in a germ cell transplantation system could offer a fast and reliable screening of donor-derived transgenic offspring, as well as accurate tracing of donor-derived cell colonization in the recipient gonad by means of immunohistochemistry using GFP antibodies. In the future, germ cell transplantation using Nile tilapia also could help to preserve the genetic resources of threatened cichlids, through cryopreservation and interspecies transplantation of germ cells from endangered cichlids into O. niloticus recipients.


Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, transgenic fish, green fluorescent protein (GFP), germ cell transplantation
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