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LlamaTags: A Versatile Tool to Image Transcription Factor Dynamics in Live Embryos.

  • Author(s): Bothma, Jacques P
  • Norstad, Matthew R
  • Alamos, Simon
  • Garcia, Hernan G
  • et al.
Abstract

Embryonic cell fates are defined by transcription factors that are rapidly deployed, yet attempts to visualize these factors in vivo often fail because of slow fluorescent protein maturation. Here, we pioneer a protein tag, LlamaTag, which circumvents this maturation limit by binding mature fluorescent proteins, making it possible to visualize transcription factor concentration dynamics in live embryos. Implementing this approach in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, we discovered stochastic bursts in the concentration of transcription factors that are correlated with bursts in transcription. We further used LlamaTags to show that the concentration of protein in a given nucleus heavily depends on transcription of that gene in neighboring nuclei; we speculate that this inter-nuclear signaling is an important mechanism for coordinating gene expression to delineate straight and sharp boundaries of gene expression. Thus, LlamaTags now make it possible to visualize the flow of information along the central dogma in live embryos.

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