The availability of site-specific recombinases has revolutionized the rational construction of cell lines with predictable properties. Early efforts were directed to providing pre-characterized genomic loci with a single recombinase target site that served as an address for the integration of vectors carrying a compatible tag. Efficient procedures of this type had to await recombinases like ΦC31, which recombine attP and attB target sites in a one-way reaction — at least in the cellular environment of the higher eukaryotic cell. Still these procedures lead to the co-introduction of prokaryotic vector sequences that are known to cause epigenetic silencing. This review illuminates the actual status of the more advanced recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) techniques that have been developed for the major members of site-specific recombinases (SR), Flp, Cre and ΦC31. In RMCE the genomic address consists of a set of heterospecific recombinase target (RT-) sites permitting the exchange of the intervening sequence for the gene of interest (GOI), as part of a similar cassette. This process locks the GOI in place and it is ‘clean’ in the sense that it does not co-introduce prokaryotic vector parts nor does it leave behind a selection marker.
Key words: Cassette exchange, Flexing, Floxing, Flrting, Froxing, RMCE, Site-specific recombinase, Tissue engineering