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1.  G2R Cre Reporter Transgenic Zebrafish 
The Cre/loxP site-specific recombination system has been widely used to manipulate DNA in vivo and to study gene function in the mouse by inducible transgenic and conditional gene targeting. To fully use this powerful genetic tool in a relatively new animal model, zebrafish, we generated reporter transgenic lines for easy detection of Cre recombinase activity in vivo. The transgenic fish lines, designated G2R, express two fluorescent protein genes, GFP and RFP, under the control of the ubiquitous promoter of the Xenopus EF1 alpha gene. The G2R animals change their color from green to red (G2R) after Cre-mediated recombination and are useful for development of cell type specific Cre transgenic lines and for cell lineage and fate mapping studies in zebrafish.
PMCID: PMC2665268  PMID: 18729206
Cre/loxP; transgenic zebrafish; Cre-reporter fish; conditional gene expression
2.  A pink mouse reports the switch from red to green fluorescence upon Cre-mediated recombination 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:296.
Targeted genetic modification in the mouse becomes increasingly important in biomedical and basic science. This goal is most often achieved by use of the Cre/loxP system and numerous Cre-driver mouse lines are currently generated. Their initial characterization requires reporter mouse lines to study the in vivo spatiotemporal activity of Cre.
Here, we report a dual fluorescence reporter mouse line, which switches expression from the red fluorescent protein mCherry to eGFP after Cre-mediated recombination. Both fluorescent proteins are expressed from the ubiquitously active and strong CAGGS promoter. Among the founders, we noticed a pink mouse line, expressing high levels of the red fluorescent protein mCherry throughout the entire body. Presence of mCherry in the living animal as well as in almost all organs was clearly visible without optical equipment. Upon Cre-activity, mCherry expression was switched to eGFP, demonstrating functionality of this reporter mouse line.
The pink mouse presented here is an attractive novel reporter line for fluorescence-based monitoring of Cre-activity. The high expression of mCherry, which is visible to the naked eye, facilitates breeding and crossing, as no genotyping is required to identify mice carrying the reporter allele. The presence of two fluorescent proteins allows in vivo monitoring of recombined and non-recombined cells. Finally, the pink mouse is an eye-catching animal model to demonstrate the power of transgenic techniques in teaching courses.
PMCID: PMC3434021  PMID: 22697046
3.  Promiscuous recombination of LoxP alleles during gametogenesis in cornea Cre driver mice 
Molecular Vision  2008;14:562-571.
To examine whether promiscuous Cre/LoxP recombination happens during gametogenesis in double transgenic mice carrying LoxP modified alleles and Cre transgene driven by tissue-specific promoter outside the gonads of adult mice.
Cre driver mice were crossbred with reporter mouse lines (e.g., ZEG and Rosa26R) to obtain Cre/ZEG and Cre/Rosa26R double transgenic mice. The frequency of promiscuous LoxP/Cre recombination was determined by the expression of second reporter genes in the offspring of double transgenic mice.
The frequency of promiscuous LoxP/Cre recombination varied in different lines of Cre driver mice and in the sex of the same driver mice with higher penetrance in male than in female double transgenic mice. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and recombination analysis demonstrate that the recombination of floxed allele occurs during the transition from spermatogonia (diploid) to primary spermatocyte (tetraploid) in the testis. Thereby, target-floxed allele(s) may be ubiquitously ablated in experimental animals intended for tissue-specific gene deletion.
Gametogenesis-associated recombination should always be examined in tissue-specific gene ablation studies.
PMCID: PMC2274927  PMID: 18385792
4.  Conditional Bicistronic Cre Reporter Line Expressing Both Firefly Luciferase and β-galactosidase 
Molecular Imaging and Biology  2010;13(2):284-292.
The Cre-loxP system has become an important strategy for conditional gene deletion and conditional gene expression in genetically engineered mice. To evaluate Cre recombinase expression, we generated reporter mice that permit both noninvasive imaging in living animals and either ex vivo histochemical/immunohistochemical tissue transgene expression analysis or quantitative enzyme analysis in the same animal.
Transgenic reporter mice were generated in which a loxP-flanked enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter gene and STOP sequence are placed after the nearly ubiquitously expressed CAG promoter, but before a bicistronic transcriptional unit containing luciferase and β-galactosidase reporter gene coding sequences.
After global deletion of the floxed STOP sequence by germ line Cre deletion, the reporter mouse expresses luciferase and β-galactosidase in all tissues examined. Tissue-specific expression of both reporter genes occurs in reporter mouse strains expressing Cre in skin (K14 keratin Cre), heart (myosin light chair Cre), or colon (Villin Cre).
The luc-galTg reporter mouse allows noninvasive imaging of target Cre activation both in living animals and in tissues and cells following necropsy, using loss of EGFP expression, gain of luciferase expression, and gain of β-galactosidase expression as alternatives within the same animal for qualitative analysis of Cre expression.
PMCID: PMC3051074  PMID: 20495880
Cre recombinase; Transgenic mouse; Luciferase; β-galactosidase; Molecular imaging
5.  Unmodified Cre recombinase crosses the membrane 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(12):e59.
Site-specific recombination in genetically modified cells can be achieved by the activity of Cre recombinase from bacteriophage P1. Commonly an expression vector encoding Cre is introduced into cells; however, this can lead to undesired side-effects. Therefore, we tested whether cell-permeable Cre fusion proteins can be directly used for lox-specific recombination in a cell line tailored to shift from red to green fluorescence after loxP-specific recombination. Comparison of purified recombinant Cre proteins with and without a heterologous ‘protein transduction domain’ surprisingly showed that the unmodified Cre recombinase already possesses an intrinsic ability to cross the membrane border. Addition of purified recombinant Cre enyzme to primary bone marrow cells isolated from transgenic C/EBPαfl/fl mice also led to excision of the ‘floxed’ C/EBPα gene, thus demonstrating its potential for in vivo applications. We conclude that Cre enyzme itself or its intrinsic membrane-permeating moiety are attractive tools for direct manipulation of mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC117301  PMID: 12060697
6.  Cre reporter strains produced by targeted insertion of EYFP and ECFP into the ROSA26 locus 
Several Cre reporter strains of mice have been described, in which a lacZ gene is turned on in cells expressing Cre recombinase, as well as their daughter cells, following Cre-mediated excision of a loxP-flanked transcriptional "stop" sequence. These mice are useful for cell lineage tracing experiments as well as for monitoring the expression of Cre transgenes. The green fluorescent protein (GFP) and variants such as EYFP and ECFP offer an advantage over lacZ as a reporter, in that they can be easily visualized without recourse to the vital substrates required to visualize β-gal in living tissue.
In view of the general utility of targeting the ubiquitously expressed ROSA26 locus, we constructed a generic ROSA26 targeting vector. We then generated two reporter lines of mice by inserting EYFP or ECFP cDNAs into the ROSA26 locus, preceded by a loxP-flanked stop sequence. These strains were tested by crossing them with transgenic strains expressing Cre in a ubiquitous (β-actin-Cre) or a cell-specific (Isl1-Cre and En1-Cre) pattern. The resulting EYFP or ECFP expression patterns indicated that the reporter strains function as faithful monitors of Cre activity.
In contrast to existing lacZ reporter lines, where lacZ expression cannot easily be detected in living tissue, the EYFP and ECFP reporter strains are useful for monitoring the expression of Cre and tracing the lineage of these cells and their descendants in cultured embryos or organs. The non-overlapping emission spectra of EYFP and ECFP make them ideal for double labeling studies in living tissues.
PMCID: PMC31338  PMID: 11299042
7.  In Vivo Genetic Ablation by Cre-Mediated Expression of Diphtheria Toxin Fragment A 
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2005;43(3):129-135.
We generated a ROSA26-eGFP-DTA mouse line by introducing an eGFP-DTA (enhanced green fluorescent protein - diphtheria toxin fragment A) cassette into the ROSA26 locus by homologous recombination in ES cells. This mouse expresses eGFP ubiquitously, but DTA expression is prevented by the presence of eGFP, a Neo cassette, and a strong transcriptional stop sequence. Mice carrying this construct are normal and fertile, indicating the absence of DTA expression. However, upon Cre-mediated excision of the floxed region DTA expression is activated, resulting in the specific ablation of Cre-expressing cells. As an example of this approach, we ablated Nkx2.5 and Wnt1-expressing cells by using the Nkx2.5-Cre and Wnt1-Cre mouse lines, respectively. We observed loss of the precise tissues in which Nkx2.5 and Wnt1 are expressed. Apart from being a general GFP reporter, the ROSA26-GFP-DTA mouse line should provide a useful resource for genetic ablation of specific groups of cells.
PMCID: PMC2233880  PMID: 16267821
Cre; loxP; diphtheria toxin; eGFP; Nkx2.5; Wnt1; genetic ablation; heart; midbrain
8.  Conditional Gene Targeting in Mouse Pancreatic β-Cells 
Diabetes  2010;59(12):3090-3098.
Conditional gene targeting has been extensively used for in vivo analysis of gene function in β-cell biology. The objective of this study was to examine whether mouse transgenic Cre lines, used to mediate β-cell– or pancreas-specific recombination, also drive Cre expression in the brain.
Transgenic Cre lines driven by Ins1, Ins2, and Pdx1 promoters were bred to R26R reporter strains. Cre activity was assessed by β-galactosidase or yellow fluorescent protein expression in the pancreas and the brain. Endogenous Pdx1 gene expression was monitored using Pdx1tm1Cvw lacZ knock-in mice. Cre expression in β-cells and co-localization of Cre activity with orexin-expressing and leptin-responsive neurons within the brain was assessed by immunohistochemistry.
All transgenic Cre lines examined that used the Ins2 promoter to drive Cre expression showed widespread Cre activity in the brain, whereas Cre lines that used Pdx1 promoter fragments showed more restricted Cre activity primarily within the hypothalamus. Immunohistochemical analysis of the hypothalamus from Tg(Pdx1-cre)89.1Dam mice revealed Cre activity in neurons expressing orexin and in neurons activated by leptin. Tg(Ins1-Cre/ERT)1Lphi mice were the only line that lacked Cre activity in the brain.
Cre-mediated gene manipulation using transgenic lines that express Cre under the control of the Ins2 and Pdx1 promoters are likely to alter gene expression in nutrient-sensing neurons. Therefore, data arising from the use of these transgenic Cre lines must be interpreted carefully to assess whether the resultant phenotype is solely attributable to alterations in the islet β-cells.
PMCID: PMC2992770  PMID: 20802254
9.  Non-parallel recombination limits Cre-LoxP-based reporters as precise indicators of conditional genetic manipulation 
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2013;51(6):436-442.
Cre/LoxP-mediated recombination allows for conditional gene activation or inactivation. When combined with an independent lineage-tracing reporter allele, this technique traces the lineage of presumptive genetically modified Cre-expressing cells. Several studies have suggested that floxed alleles have differential sensitivities to Cre-mediated recombination, which raises concerns regarding utilization of common Cre-reporters to monitor recombination of other floxed loci of interest. Here, we directly investigate the recombination correlation, at cellular resolution, between several floxed alleles induced by Cre-expressing mouse lines. The recombination correlation between different reporter alleles varied greatly in otherwise genetically identical cell types. The chromosomal location of floxed alleles, distance between LoxP sites, sequences flanking the LoxP sites, and the level of Cre activity per cell all likely contribute to observed variations in recombination correlation. These findings directly demonstrate that, due to non-parallel recombination events, commonly available Cre reporter mice cannot be reliably utilized, in all cases, to trace cells that have DNA recombination in independent-target floxed alleles, and that careful validation of recombination correlations are required for proper interpretation of studies designed to trace the lineage of genetically modified populations, especially in mosaic situations.
PMCID: PMC3696028  PMID: 23441020
Mosaic analysis; lineage tracing; cell autonomous; Cre detection; non-parallel recombination
10.  Stella-Cre Mice are Highly Efficient Cre Deleters 
Genesis (New York, N.y. : 2000)  2011;49(8):689-695.
Cre-loxP recombination is widely used for genetic manipulation of the mouse genome. Here, we report generation and characterization of a new Cre line, Stella-Cre, where Cre expression cassette was targeted to the 3′ UTR of the Stella locus. Stella is specifically expressed in preimplantation embryos and in the germline. Cre-loxP recombination efficiency in Stella-Cre mice was investigated at several genomic loci including Rosa26, Jak2, and Npm1. At all the loci examined, we observed 100% Cre-loxP recombination efficiency in the embryos and in the germline. Thus, Stella-Cre mice serve as a very efficient deleter line. genesis 49:689–695, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3674523  PMID: 21786403
Stella; Cre-loxP recombination; knock-in
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2009;47(12):789-792.
The albCre transgene, having Cre recombinase driven by the serum albumin (alb) gene promoter, is commonly used to generate adult mice having reliable hepatocyte-specific recombination of loxP-flanked (“floxed”) alleles. Based on previous studies, it has been unclear whether albCre transgenes are also reliable in fetal and juvenile mice. Perinatal liver undergoes a dynamic transition from being predominantly hematopoietic to predominantly hepatic. We evaluated Cre activity during this transition in albCre mice using a sensitive two-color fluorescent reporter system. From fetal through adult stages, in situ patterns of Cre-dependent recombination of the reporter closely matched expression of endogenous Alb mRNA or protein, indicating most or all hepatocytes, including those in fetal and juvenile livers, had expressed Cre and recombined the reporter. Our results indicate the albCre transgene is effective at converting simple floxed alleles in fetal and neonatal mice and is an appropriate tool for studies on hepatocyte development.
PMCID: PMC2828742  PMID: 19830819
Albumin-Cre; conditional allele; liver-specific knockout; liver development; hepatocyte; fetal albumin expression
12.  Detection and Organ-Specific Ablation of Neuroendocrine Cells by Synaptophysin Locus-Based BAC Cassette in Transgenic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60905.
The role of cells of the diffuse neuroendocrine system in development and maintenance of individual organs and tissues remains poorly understood. Here we identify a regulatory region sufficient for accurate in vivo expression of synaptophysin (SYP), a common marker of neuroendocrine differentiation, and report generation of Tg(Syp-EGFPloxP-DTA)147Ayn (SypELDTA) mice suitable for flexible organ-specific ablation of neuroendocrine cells. These mice express EGFP and diphtheria toxin fragment A (DTA) in SYP positive cells before and after Cre-loxP mediated recombination, respectively. As a proof of principle, we have crossed SypELDTA mice with EIIA-Cre and PB-Cre4 mice. EIIA-Cre mice express Cre recombinase in a broad range of tissues, while PB-Cre4 mice specifically express Cre recombinase in the prostate epithelium. Double transgenic EIIA-Cre; SypELDTA embryos exhibited massive cell death in SYP positive cells. At the same time, PB-Cre4; SypELDTA mice showed a substantial decrease in the number of neuroendocrine cells and associated prostate hypotrophy. As no increase in cell death and/or Cre-loxP mediated recombination was observed in non-neuroendocrine epithelium cells, these results suggest that neuroendocrine cells play an important role in prostate development. High cell type specificity of Syp locus-based cassette and versatility of generated mouse model should assure applicability of these resources to studies of neuroendocrine cell functions in various tissues and organs.
PMCID: PMC3632533  PMID: 23630575
13.  Generation of a germ cell-specific mouse transgenic Cre line, Vasa-Cre 
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2007;45(6):413-417.
Cell type-specific genetic modification using the Cre/loxP system is a powerful tool for genetic analysis of distinct cell lineages. Because of the exquisite specificity of Vasa expression (confined to the germ cell lineage in invertebrate and vertebrate species), we hypothesized that a Vasa promoter-driven transgenic Cre line would prove useful for the germ cell lineage-specific inactivation of genes. Here we describe a transgenic mouse line, Vasa-Cre, where Cre is efficiently and specifically expressed in germ cells. Northern analysis showed that transgene expression was confined to the gonads. Cre-mediated recombination with the Rosa26-lacZ reporter was observed beginning at ~e15, and was >95% efficient in male and female germ cells by birth. There was no ectopic activity in most adults, although some animals showed more widespread lacZ expression. This Vasa-Cre transgenic line should thus prove useful for genetic analysis of diverse aspects of germ cell function and gametogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2597027  PMID: 17551945
Cre; vasa; germ cells; gonad
14.  High-Resolution Labeling and Functional Manipulation of Specific Neuron Types in Mouse Brain by Cre-Activated Viral Gene Expression 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e2005.
We describe a method that combines Cre-recombinase knockin mice and viral-mediated gene transfer to genetically label and functionally manipulate specific neuron types in the mouse brain. We engineered adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) that express GFP, dsRedExpress, or channelrhodopsin (ChR2) upon Cre/loxP recombination-mediated removal of a transcription-translation STOP cassette. Fluorescent labeling was sufficient to visualize neuronal structures with synaptic resolution in vivo, and ChR2 expression allowed light activation of neuronal spiking. The structural dynamics of a specific class of neocortical neuron, the parvalbumin-containing (Pv) fast-spiking GABAergic interneuron, was monitored over the course of a week. We found that although the majority of Pv axonal boutons were stable in young adults, bouton additions and subtractions on axonal shafts were readily observed at a rate of 10.10% and 9.47%, respectively, over 7 days. Our results indicate that Pv inhibitory circuits maintain the potential for structural re-wiring in post-adolescent cortex. With the generation of an increasing number of Cre knockin mice and because viral transfection can be delivered to defined brain regions at defined developmental stages, this strategy represents a general method to systematically visualize the structure and manipulate the function of different cell types in the mouse brain.
PMCID: PMC2289876  PMID: 18414675
15.  A robust and high-throughput Cre reporting and characterization system for the whole mouse brain 
Nature neuroscience  2009;13(1):133-140.
The Cre/lox system is widely used in mice to achieve cell-type-specific gene expression. However, a strong and universal responding system to express genes under Cre control is still lacking. We have generated a set of Cre reporter mice with strong, ubiquitous expression of fluorescent proteins of different spectra. The robust native fluorescence of these reporters enables direct visualization of fine dendritic structures and axonal projections of the labeled neurons, which is useful in mapping neuronal circuitry, imaging and tracking specific cell populations in vivo. Using these reporters and a high-throughput in situ hybridization platform, we are systematically profiling Cre-directed gene expression throughout the mouse brain in a number of Cre-driver lines, including novel Cre lines targeting different cell types in the cortex. Our expression data are displayed in a public online database to help researchers assess the utility of various Cre-driver lines for cell-type-specific genetic manipulation.
PMCID: PMC2840225  PMID: 20023653
16.  Directed Expression of Cre in Alveolar Epithelial Type 1 Cells 
Pulmonary alveolar epithelium is comprised of two morphologically and functionally distinct cell types, alveolar epithelial type (AT) I and AT2 cells. Genetically modified mice with cell-specific Cre/loxP-mediated knockouts of relevant genes in each respective cell type would be useful to help elucidate the relative contributions of AT1 versus AT2 cells to alveolar homeostasis. Cre has previously been efficiently expressed in AT2 cells in mouse lung with the surfactant protein (SP)-C promoter; however, no transgenic mouse expressing Cre in AT1 cells has so far been available. To develop an AT1 cell–specific transgenic Cre mouse, we generated a knockin of a Cre-IRES-DsRed cassette into exon 1 of the endogenous aquaporin 5 (Aqp5) gene, a gene expressed specifically in AT1 cells in the distal lung epithelium, resulting in the mouse line, Aqp5-Cre-IRES-DsRed (ACID). Endogenous Aqp5 and transgenic Cre in ACID mice showed a very similar pattern of tissue distribution by RT-PCR. To analyze Cre activity, ACID was crossed to two Cre reporter strains, R26LacZ and mT/mG. Double-transgenic offspring demonstrated reporter gene expression in a very high fraction of AT1 cells in the distal lung, whereas AT2 cells were negative. As expected, variable reporter expression was detected in several other tissues where endogenous Aqp5 is expressed (e.g., submandibular salivary gland and stomach). ACID mice should be of major utility in analyzing the functional contribution of AT1 cells to alveolar epithelial properties in vivo with Cre/loxP-mediated gene deletion technology.
PMCID: PMC2937230  PMID: 19767448
loxP; aquaporin 5; lung; alveolar epithelium; reporter
17.  Improved Cre reporter transgenic Xenopus 
We have produced and characterized improved transgenic reporter lines for detection of Cre recombinase activity during Xenopus development. Improvements include choice of fluorophores, which make these Cre reporter lines generally suitable for lineage tracing studies. We also include data for several new parameters affecting survival and transgenesis efficiency using the recently developed meganuclease method of frog transgenesis. These transgenic frogs express cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) under control of the ubiquitous promoter CMV, where CFP is replaced by DsRed2 (a red fluorescent protein) in the presence of Cre. Three independent, high expression, Cre-sensitive lines have been identified that maintain robust fluorophore expression across generations and lack DsRed2 expression in the absence of Cre. A novel use of these lines is to indelibly mark embryonic blastomeres by Cre mRNA injection for permanent fate mapping. Similarly, transgenically expressed Cre under control of tissue-specific promoters will allow detailed analysis of cell lineage relationships throughout embryogenesis, metamorphosis, and adulthood.
PMCID: PMC2779334  PMID: 19653309
Xenopus laevis; frog transgenesis; Cre recombinase; lineage tracing
18.  A CK19CreERT Knockin Mouse Line Allows for Conditional DNA Recombination in Epithelial Cells in Multiple Endodermal Organs 
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2008;46(6):318-323.
Cre/LoxP-mediated DNA recombination allows for gene function and cell lineage analyses during embryonic development and tissue regeneration. Here, we describe the derivation of a K19CreERT mouse line in which the tamoxifen-activable CreERT was knocked into the endogenous cytokeratin 19 locus. In the absence of tamoxifen, leaky Cre activity could be detected only in less than 1% of stomach and intestinal epithelial cells, but not in pancreatic or hepatic epithelial tissues. Tamoxifen administration in postnatal animals induced widespread DNA recombination in epithelial cells of pancreatic ducts, hepatic ducts, stomach, and intestine in a dose-dependent manner. Significantly, we found that Cre activity could be induced in the putative gut stem/progenitor cells that sustained long-term gut epithelial expression of a Cre reporter. This mouse line should therefore provide a valuable reagent for manipulating gene activity and for cell lineage marking in multiorgans during normal tissue homeostasis and regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3735352  PMID: 18543299
lineage tracing; pancreas; small intestine; colon; liver; kidney; stomach; Cre
19.  Efficient delivery of Cre-recombinase to neurons in vivo and stable transduction of neurons using adeno-associated and lentiviral vectors 
BMC Neuroscience  2004;5:4.
Inactivating genes in vivo is an important technique for establishing their function in the adult nervous system. Unfortunately, conventional knockout mice may suffer from several limitations including embryonic or perinatal lethality and the compensatory regulation of other genes. One approach to producing conditional activation or inactivation of genes involves the use of Cre recombinase to remove loxP-flanked segments of DNA. We have studied the effects of delivering Cre to the hippocampus and neocortex of adult mice by injecting replication-deficient adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentiviral (LV) vectors into discrete regions of the forebrain.
Recombinant AAV-Cre, AAV-GFP (green fluorescent protein) and LV-Cre-EGFP (enhanced GFP) were made with the transgene controlled by the cytomegalovirus promoter. Infecting 293T cells in vitro with AAV-Cre and LV-Cre-EGFP resulted in transduction of most cells as shown by GFP fluorescence and Cre immunoreactivity. Injections of submicrolitre quantities of LV-Cre-EGFP and mixtures of AAV-Cre with AAV-GFP into the neocortex and hippocampus of adult Rosa26 reporter mice resulted in strong Cre and GFP expression in the dentate gyrus and moderate to strong labelling in specific regions of the hippocampus and in the neocortex, mainly in neurons. The pattern of expression of Cre and GFP obtained with AAV and LV vectors was very similar. X-gal staining showed that Cre-mediated recombination had occurred in neurons in the same regions of the brain, starting at 3 days post-injection. No obvious toxic effects of Cre expression were detected even after four weeks post-injection.
AAV and LV vectors are capable of delivering Cre to neurons in discrete regions of the adult mouse brain and producing recombination.
PMCID: PMC343275  PMID: 15005815
20.  Primary spermatocyte-specific Cre recombinase activity in transgenic mice 
Transgenic research  2004;13(3):289-294.
We have evaluated the specificity of Cre recombinase activity in transgenic mice expressing Cre under the control of the synatonemal complex protein 1 (Sycp1) gene promoter. Sycp1Cre mice were crossed with the ROSA26 reporter line R26R, to monitor the male germ cell stage-specificity of Cre activity as well as to verify that Cre was not active previously during development of other tissues. X-gal staining detected Cre-mediated recombination only in testis. Detailed histological examination indicated that weak Cre-mediated recombination occurred as early as in zygotene spermatocytes at stage XI of the cycle of the seminiferous epithelium. Robust expression of X-gal was detected in early to mid-late spermatocytes at stages V–VIII. We conclude that this transgenic line is a powerful tool for deleting genes of interest specifically during male meiosis.
PMCID: PMC3778662  PMID: 15359605
Cre recombinase; Sycp1Cre; ROSA26; primary spermatocytes
21.  Controlled Cre/loxP Site-Specific Recombination in the Developing Brain in Medaka Fish, Oryzias latipes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66597.
Genetic mosaic techniques have been used to visualize and/or genetically modify a neuronal subpopulation within complex neural circuits in various animals. Neural populations available for mosaic analysis, however, are limited in the vertebrate brain.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To establish methodology to genetically manipulate neural circuits in medaka, we first created two transgenic (Tg) medaka lines, Tg (HSP:Cre) and Tg (HuC:loxP-DsRed-loxP-GFP). We confirmed medaka HuC promoter-derived expression of the reporter gene in juvenile medaka whole brain, and in neuronal precursor cells in the adult brain. We then demonstrated that stochastic recombination can be induced by micro-injection of Cre mRNA into Tg (HuC:loxP-DsRed-loxP-GFP) embryos at the 1-cell stage, which allowed us to visualize some subpopulations of GFP-positive cells in compartmentalized regions of the telencephalon in the adult medaka brain. This finding suggested that the distribution of clonally-related cells derived from single or a few progenitor cells was restricted to a compartmentalized region. Heat treatment of Tg(HSP:Cre x HuC:loxP-DsRed-loxP-GFP) embryos (0–1 day post fertilization [dpf]) in a thermalcycler (39°C) led to Cre/loxP recombination in the whole brain. The recombination efficiency was notably low when using 2–3 dpf embyos compared with 0–1 dpf embryos, indicating the possibility of stage-dependent sensitivity of heat-inducible recombination. Finally, using an infrared laser-evoked gene operator (IR-LEGO) system, heat shock induced in a micro area in the developing brains led to visualization of clonally-related cells in both juvenile and adult medaka fish.
We established a noninvasive method to control Cre/loxP site-specific recombination in the developing nervous system in medaka fish. This method will broaden the neural population available for mosaic analyses and allow for lineage tracing of the vertebrate nervous system in both juvenile and adult stages.
PMCID: PMC3692484  PMID: 23825546
22.  Germ-Line Recombination Activity of the Widely Used hGFAP-Cre and Nestin-Cre Transgenes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82818.
Herein we demonstrate with PCR, immunodetection and reporter gene approaches that the widely used human Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (hGFAP)-Cre transgene exhibits spontaneous germ-line recombination activity in leading to deletion in brain, heart and tail tissue with high frequency. The ectopic activity of hGFAP-Cre requires a rigorous control. We likewise observed that a second widely used nestin-Cre transgene shows germ-line deletion. Here we describe procedures to identify mice with germ-line recombination mediated by the hGFAP-Cre and nestin-Cre transgenes. Such control is essential to avoid pleiotropic effects due to germ-line deletion of loxP-flanked target genes and to maintain the CNS-restricted deletion status in transgenic mouse colonies.
PMCID: PMC3857304  PMID: 24349371
23.  A Dual Infection Pseudorabies Virus Conditional Reporter Approach to Identify Projections to Collateralized Neurons in Complex Neural Circuits 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21141.
Replication and transneuronal transport of pseudorabies virus (PRV) are widely used to define the organization of neural circuits in rodent brain. Here we report a dual infection approach that highlights connections to neurons that collateralize within complex networks. The method combines Cre recombinase (Cre) expression from a PRV recombinant (PRV-267) and Cre-dependent reporter gene expression from a second infecting strain of PRV (PRV-263). PRV-267 expresses both Cre and a monomeric red fluorescent protein (mRFP) fused to viral capsid protein VP26 (VP26-mRFP) that accumulates in infected cell nuclei. PRV-263 carries a Brainbow cassette and expresses a red (dTomato) reporter that fills the cytoplasm. However, in the presence of Cre, the dTomato gene is recombined from the cassette, eliminating expression of the red reporter and liberating expression of either yellow (EYFP) or cyan (mCerulean) cytoplasmic reporters. We conducted proof-of-principle experiments using a well-characterized model in which separate injection of recombinant viruses into the left and right kidneys produces infection of neurons in the renal preautonomic network. Neurons dedicated to one kidney expressed the unique reporters characteristic of PRV-263 (cytoplasmic dTomato) or PRV-267 (nuclear VP26-mRFP). Dual infected neurons expressed VP26-mRFP and the cyan or yellow cytoplasmic reporters activated by Cre-mediated recombination of the Brainbow cassette. Differential expression of cyan or yellow reporters in neurons lacking VP26-mRFP provided a unique marker of neurons synaptically connected to dual infected neurons, a synaptic relationship that cannot be distinguished using other dual infection tracing approaches. These data demonstrate Cre-enabled conditional reporter expression in polysynaptic circuits that permits the identification of collateralized neurons and their presynaptic partners.
PMCID: PMC3116869  PMID: 21698154
24.  Site-directed integration of the cre gene mediated by Cre recombinase using a combination of mutant lox sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(19):e103.
The Cre-lox system is an important tool for genetic manipulation. To promote integrative reactions, two strategies using mutant lox sites have been developed. One is the left element/right element (LE/RE)-mutant strategy and the other is the cassette exchange strategy using heterospecific lox sites such as lox511 or lox2272. We compared the recombination efficiencies using these mutant lox sites in embryonic stem (ES) cells, and found that the combination of the LE/RE mutant and lox2272 showed high recombination efficiency and stability of the recombined structure. Taking advantage of this stability, we successfully integrated the cre gene into the mutant lox sites by Cre-mediated recombination. Germ line chimeric mice were produced from the cre-integrated ES cell clones, and Cre-expressing mouse lines were established. The inserted cre gene was stably maintained through the generations. This cre knock-in system using the LE/RE-lox2272 combination should be useful for the production of various cre mice for gene targeting or gene trapping.
PMCID: PMC140563  PMID: 12364620
25.  Cre Reporter Mouse Expressing a Nuclear Localized Fusion of GFP and β-Galactosidase Reveals New Derivatives of Pax3-Expressing Precursors 
Genesis (New York, N.Y. : 2000)  2008;46(4):200-204.
A new Cre-reporter strain of mouse has been developed that expresses a fusion protein derived from the lacZ gene fused to GFP with a nuclear localization signal. This construct is expressed from the ROSA26 locus upon Cre-mediated recombination that removes a loxP-flanked PGK-neo cassette, thus allowing for detection of Cre activity in all tissues. This reporter strain, which is similar to prior R26R and R26EGFP strains, has certain advantages related to the nuclear expression and the combined expression of both β-galactosidase and GFP activities. We show that the use of this newly developed reporter line allows for enhanced resolution, detection and co-localization. Thus, we report a previously unrecognized subset of venous endothelial cells derived from Pax3 expressing precursors. genesis 46:200–204, 2008.
PMCID: PMC2747029  PMID: 18395835
Pax3; reporter; cardinal vein; GFP; β-gal-actosidase; endothelial cell

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