Supporting conditional mouse mutagenesis with a comprehensive cre characterization resource.
ABSTRACT: Full realization of the value of the loxP-flanked alleles generated by the International Knockout Mouse Consortium will require a large set of well-characterized cre-driver lines. However, many cre driver lines display excision activity beyond the intended tissue or cell type, and these data are frequently unavailable to the potential user. Here we describe a high-throughput pipeline to extend characterization of cre driver lines to document excision activity in a wide range of tissues at multiple time points and disseminate these data to the scientific community. Our results show that the majority of cre strains exhibit some degree of unreported recombinase activity. In addition, we observe frequent mosaicism, inconsistent activity and parent-of-origin effects. Together, these results highlight the importance of deep characterization of cre strains, and provide the scientific community with a critical resource for cre strain information.
Project description:The Cre/loxP recombination system has revolutionized the ability to genetically manipulate animal genomes in order to conditionally control gene expression. With recent advances in genome editing, barriers to manipulating the rat genome have been overcome and it is now possible to generate new rat strains (Cre drivers) in which Cre recombinase expression is carefully controlled temporally and/or spatially. However, the ability to evaluate and characterize these Cre driver strains is limited by the availability of reliable reporter rat strains. Here, we describe the generation and characterization of a new transgenic rat strain in which conditional expression of the ZsGreen fluorescent protein gene requires the presence of exogenous Cre recombinase. Breeding Cre-expressing rat strains to this stable ZsGreen reporter strain provides an ideal method for validating new rat Cre driver lines and will greatly accelerate the characterization pipeline.
Project description:Conditional gene targeting in mice has provided great insight into the role of gene function in kidney development and disease. Although a number of Cre-driver mouse strains already exist for the kidney, development of additional strains with unique expression patterns is needed. Here we report the generation and validation of a Tcf21/Pod1-Cre driver strain that expresses Cre recombinase throughout the condensing and stromal mesenchyme of developing kidneys and in their derivatives including epithelial components of the nephron and interstitial cells. To test the efficiency of this line, we crossed it to mice transgenic for either loss or gain of function ?-catenin conditional alleles. Mice with deletion of ?-catenin from Tcf21-expressing cells are born with hypoplastic kidneys, hydroureters and hydronephrosis. By contrast, Tcf21-Cre driven gain of function for ?-catenin in mice results in fused midline kidneys and hypoplastic kidneys. Finally, we report the first renal mesenchymal deletion of Patched1 (Ptch1), the receptor for sonic hedgehog (Shh), which results in renal cysts demonstrating a functional role of Shh signaling pathway in renal cystogensis. In summary, we report the generation and validation of a new Cre driver strain that provides robust excision in metanephric mesenchyme.
Project description:Significant advances in circuit-level analyses of the brain require tools that allow for labeling, modulation of gene expression, and monitoring and manipulation of cellular activity in specific cell types and/or anatomical regions. Large-scale projects and individual laboratories have produced hundreds of gene-specific promoter-driven Cre mouse lines invaluable for enabling genetic access to subpopulations of cells in the brain. However, the potential utility of each line may not be fully realized without systematic whole brain characterization of transgene expression patterns. We established a high-throughput in situ hybridization (ISH), imaging and data processing pipeline to describe whole brain gene expression patterns in Cre driver mice. Currently, anatomical data from over 100 Cre driver lines are publicly available via the Allen Institute's Transgenic Characterization database, which can be used to assist researchers in choosing the appropriate Cre drivers for functional, molecular, or connectional studies of different regions and/or cell types in the brain.
Project description:The recombination efficiency and cell specificity of Cre driver lines are critical for exploring pancreatic ? cell biology with the Cre/LoxP approach. Some commonly used Cre lines are based on the short Ins2 promoter fragment and show recombination activity in hypothalamic neurons; however, whether this stems from endogenous Ins2 promoter activity remains controversial. In this study, we generated Ins2-Cre knockin mice with a targeted insertion of IRES-Cre at the Ins2 locus and demonstrated with a cell lineage tracing study that the Ins2 gene is not transcriptionally active in the hypothalamus. The Ins2-Cre driver line displayed robust Cre expression and activity in pancreatic ? cells without significant alterations in insulin expression. In the brain, Cre activity was mainly restricted to the choroid plexus, without significant recombination detected in the hippocampus or hypothalamus by the LacZ or fluorescent tdTomato reporters. Furthermore, Ins2-Cre mice exhibited normal glucose tolerance and insulin secretion upon glucose stimulation in vivo. In conclusion, this Ins2-Cre driver line allowed high-fidelity detection of endogenous Ins2 promoter activity in vivo, and the negative activity in the hypothalamus demonstrated that this system is a promising alternative tool for studying ? cell biology.
Project description:The Cre-LoxP system gene knockout (KO) technology provides cell- and time-specificity of gene ablation to investigate cell-autonomous gene function in vivo, and is paramount for understanding the function of genes involved in bone development, remodeling, and repair. This approach permits gene ablation in a cell- or tissue-specific, differentiation stage-specific, and inducible manner, thanks to the use of well-chosen promoters that drive expression of the Cre recombinase in selected cells/tissues. The generation of these powerful tools has led to the expansion of Cre mouse lines available to the research community, which are often shared within and between laboratories. Although convenient and commonly used, genotyping these Cre lines with a generic set of primers that amplifies the Cre transgene does not distinguish between various Cre-deleter lines. This practice poses the significant risk of mistakenly swapping Cre lineages, as laboratories often host and handle several lines at a time and utilize multiple lines per project. In line with the NIH-led effort to promote authentication of biological reagents and increase scientific rigor, we report here strategies for designing appropriate sets of primers able to discriminate some of most widely used Cre-deleter mouse lines in the field of bone biology, and the validation of 24 of them.
Project description:Recent development of molecular genetic techniques are rapidly advancing understanding of the functional role of brain circuits in behavior. Critical to this approach is the ability to target specific neuron populations and circuits. The collection of over 250 BAC Cre-recombinase driver lines produced by the GENSAT project provides a resource for such studies. Here we provide characterization of GENSAT BAC-Cre driver lines with expression in specific neuroanatomical pathways within the cerebral cortex and basal ganglia.
Project description:The cardiac conduction system (CCS) is composed of specialized cardiomyocytes that initiate and maintain cardiac rhythm. Any perturbation to the normal sequence of electrical events within the heart can result in cardiac arrhythmias. To understand how cardiac rhythm is established at the molecular level, several genetically modified mouse lines expressing Cre recombinase within specific CCS compartments have been created. In general, Cre driver lines have been generated either by homologous recombination of Cre into an endogenous locus or Cre expression driven by a randomly inserted transgene. However, haploinsufficiency of the endogenous gene compromises the former approach, while position effects negatively impact the latter. To address these limitations, we generated a Cre driver line for the ventricular conduction system (VCS) that preserves endogenous gene expression by targeting the Contactin2 (Cntn2) 3' untranslated region (3'UTR). Here we show that Cntn23'UTR-IRES-Cre-EGFP/+ mice recombine floxed alleles within the VCS and that Cre expression faithfully recapitulates the spatial distribution of Cntn2 within the heart. We further demonstrate that Cre expression initiates after birth with preservation of native Cntn2 protein. Finally, we show that Cntn23'UTR-IRES-Cre-EGFP/+ mice maintain normal cardiac mechanical and electrical function. Taken together, our results establish a novel VCS-specific Cre driver line without the adverse consequences of haploinsufficiency or position effects. We expect that our new mouse line will add to the accumulating toolkit of CCS-specific mouse reagents and aid characterization of the cell-autonomous molecular circuitry that drives VCS maintenance and function.
Project description:The rat is a preferred model system over the mouse for neurological studies, and cell type-specific Cre expression in the rat enables precise ablation of gene function in neurons of interest, which is especially valuable for neurodegenerative disease modeling and optogenetics. Yet, few such Cre rats are available. Here we report the characterization of two Cre rats, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-Cre and dopamine active transporter (DAT or Slc6a3)-Cre, by using a combination of immunohistochemistry (IHC) and mRNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) as well as a fluorescent reporter for Cre activity. We detected Cre expression in expected neurons in both Cre lines. Interestingly, we also found that in Th-Cre rats, but not DAT-Cre rats, Cre is expressed in female germ cells, allowing germline excision of the floxed allele and hence the generation of whole-body knockout rats. In summary, our data demonstrate that targeted integration of Cre cassette lead to faithful recapitulation of expression pattern of the endogenous promoter, and mRNA FISH, in addition to IHC, is an effective method for the analysis of the spatiotemporal gene expression patterns in the rat brain, alleviating the dependence on high quality antibodies that are often not available against rat proteins. The Th-Cre and the DAT-Cre rat lines express Cre in selective subsets of dopaminergic neurons and should be particularly useful for researches on Parkinson's disease.
Project description:The Cre/loxP system is a widely applied technology for site-specific genetic manipulation in mice. This system allows for deletion of the genes of interest in specific cells, tissues, and whole organism to generate a diversity of conditional knockout mouse strains. Additionally, the Cre/loxP system is useful for development of cell- and tissue-specific reporter mice for lineage tracing, and cell-specific conditional depletion models in mice. Recently, the Cre/loxP technique was extensively adopted to characterize the monocyte/macrophage biology in mouse models. Compared to other relatively homogenous immune cell types such as neutrophils, mast cells, and basophils, monocytes/macrophages represent a highly heterogeneous population which lack specific markers or transcriptional factors. Though great efforts have been made toward establishing macrophage-specific Cre driver mice in the past decade, all of the current available strains are not perfect with regard to their depletion efficiency and targeting specificity for endogenous macrophages. Here we overview the commonly used Cre driver mouse strains targeting macrophages and discuss their major applications and limitations.