Preimplantation embryos of mammals are enclosed by a translucent layer called zona pellucida (ZP), which is composed of glycoproteins. ZP is important for protecting against infection by virus and bacteria, and to prevent attachment of embryos to the oviductal epithelia. Due to the presence of ZP, it has been difficult to transfect preimplantation embryos existing within the oviductal lumen, with exogenous nucleic acids, such as DNA and mRNA. However, intraoviductal instillation of nucleic acids, and subsequent in vivo electroporation in pregnant females, enables transfection of these embryos, leading to the production of gene-modified animals. This new method for production of genetically modified animals does not require any ex vivo handling of embryos, which has been essential for traditional transgenesis. In this article, we describe recent advances in the in vivo transfection of preimplantation mammalian embryos, and also the possibility of simple transfection of these embryos through intraoviductal instillation of a solution, alone.
Part of the book: New Insights into Theriogenology