Sea urchins are an important model for experiments at the intersection of development and systems biology, and technical innovations that enhance the utility of this model are of great value. This study explores pantropic retroviruses as a transduction tool for sea urchin embryos, and demonstrates that pantropic retroviruses infect sea urchin embryos with high efficiency and genomically integrate at a copy number of one per cell. We successfully used a self-inactivation strategy to both insert a sea urchin-specific enhancer and disrupt the endogenous viral enhancer. The resulting self-inactivating viruses drive global and persistent gene expression, consistent with genomic integration during the first cell cycle. Together, these data provide substantial proof of principle for transduction technology in sea urchin embryos.
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