Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Assay for Tissue-specific Genes using Early-stage Mouse Embryos
Department of Cell Biology
Chromatin Immunoprecipitation; Embryo, Mammalian; Mice; Biological Assay
Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) is a powerful tool to identify protein:chromatin interactions that occur in the context of living cells (1-3). This technique has been widely exploited in tissue culture cells, and to a lesser extent, in primary tissue. The application of ChIP to rodent embryonic tissue, especially at early times of development, is complicated by the limited amount of tissue and the heterogeneity of cell and tissue types in the embryo. Here we present a method to perform ChIP using a dissociated embryonic day 8.5 (E8.5) embryo. Sheared chromatin from a single E8.5 embryo can be divided into up to five aliquots, which allows the investigator sufficient material for controls and for investigation of specific protein:chromatin interactions. We have utilized this technique to begin to document protein:chromatin interactions during the specification of tissue-specific gene expression programs. The heterogeneity of cell types in an embryo necessarily restricts the application of this technique because the result is the detection of protein:chromatin interactions without distinguishing whether the interactions occur in all, a subset of, or a single cell type(s). However, examination of tissue-specific genes during or following the onset of tissue-specific gene expression is feasible for two reasons. First, immunoprecipitation of tissue specific factors necessarily isolates chromatin from the cell type where the factor is expressed. Second, immunoprecipitation of coactivators and histones containing post-translational modifications that are associated with gene activation should only be found at genes and gene regulatory sequences in the cell type where the gene is being or has been activated. The technique should be applicable to the study of most tissue-specific gene activation events. In the example described below, we utilized E8.5 and E9.5 mouse embryos to examine factor binding at a skeletal muscle specific gene promoter. Somites, which are the precursor tissues from which the skeletal muscles of the trunk and limbs will form, are present at E8.5-9.5(4,5). Myogenin is a regulatory factor required for skeletal muscle differentiation (6-9). The data demonstrate that myogenin is associated with its own promoter in E8.5 and E9.5 embryos. Because myogenin is only expressed in somites at this stage of development (6,10), the data indicate that myogenin interactions with its own promoter have already occurred in skeletal muscle precursor cells in E8.5 embryos.
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Citation: J Vis Exp. 2011 Apr 29;(50). pii: 2677. doi: 10.3791/2677. Link to article on publisher's site
Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE