Free Access
Reprod. Nutr. Dev.
Volume 45, Number 3, May-June 2005
SYMPOSIUM: Homage to Professor Charles Thibault
Page(s) 321 - 339
Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 45 (2005) 321-339
DOI: 10.1051/rnd:2005024

Methods in clonal analysis and applications

Anne-Cécile Petit, Emilie Legué and Jean-François Nicolas

Unité de Biologie moléculaire du Développement, Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France

Abstract - During development, embryonic cells display a large variety of behaviors that lead to the formation of embryonic structures that are frequently transient. Simultaneously, cells progress towards a specific fate. The current challenge for embryologists is to resolve how these two distinct aspects of development co-exist. As cell behaviors (including elementary cellular operations such as motility, adhesiveness, polarization, change in shape, division and death) and their control are much less well understood than the genetic aspects of cell fate determination, there is currently much interest in the study of cell behaviors. This mainly consists of labeling groups of cells or, less frequently, single cells and observing their descendants. In this review, we describe a few techniques for labeling groups of cells and we discuss prospective and retrospective clonal analysis, in particular the LaacZ system, in detail. We examine the information generated by these approaches.

Key words: cell lineage / laacZ / cell fate assignment / developmental patterning / change in shape / cell adhesiveness / cell motility

Corresponding author: Jean-François Nicolas

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2005