Expression Patterns of Inducible Cre Recombinase Driven by Differential Astrocyte-Specific Promoters in Transgenic Mouse Lines
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Astrocytes are the most abundant cell type in the central nervous system (CNS). They provide trophic support for neurons, modulate synaptic transmission and plasticity, and contribute to neuronal dysfunction. Many transgenic mouse lines have been generated to obtain astrocyte-specific expression of inducible Cre recombinase for functional studies; however, the expression patterns of inducible Cre recombinase in these lines have not been systematically characterized. We generated a new astrocyte-specific Aldh1l1-CreERT2 knock-in mouse line and compared the expression pattern of Cre recombinase between this and five widely-used transgenic lines (hGfap-CreERT2 from The Jackson Laboratory and The Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center, Glast-CreERT2, Cx30-CreERT2, and Fgfr3-iCreERT2) by crossing with Ai14 mice, which express tdTomato fluorescence following Cre-mediated recombination. In adult Aldh1l1-CreERT2:Ai14 transgenic mice, tdTomato was detected throughout the CNS, and five novel morphologically-defined types of astrocyte were described. Among the six evaluated lines, the specificity of Cre-mediated recombination was highest when driven by Aldh1l1 and lowest when driven by hGfap; in the latter mice, co-staining between tdTomato and NeuN was observed in the hippocampus and cortex. Notably, evident leakage was noted in Fgfr3-iCreERT2 mice, and the expression level of tdTomato was low in the thalamus when Cre recombinase expression was driven by Glast and in the capsular part of the central amygdaloid nucleus when driven by Cx30. Furthermore, tdTomato was clearly expressed in peripheral organs in four of the lines. Our results emphasize that the astrocyte-specific CreERT2 transgenic lines used in functional studies should be carefully selected.
KeywordsAstrocytes Cre recombinase Expression pattern Aldh1l1 Morphology
This work was supported by Grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31430032, 31830033, 81971080, and 81671356), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Teams in University (IRT_16R37), the Science and Technology Program of Guangdong (2018B030334001), and the Guangzhou Science and Technology Project (201707020027, 201704020116). Thanks to Professor William D. Richardson (University College London, UK) for the Fgfr3-iCreERT2 line.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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