Considerations for the use of Cre recombinase for conditional gene deletion in the mouse lens.
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BACKGROUND: Despite a number of different transgenes that can mediate DNA deletion in the developing lens, each has unique features that can make a given transgenic line more or less appropriate for particular studies. The purpose of this work encompasses both a review of transgenes that lead to the expression of Cre recombinase in the lens and a comparative analysis of currently available transgenic lines with a particular emphasis on the Le-Cre and P0-3.9GFPCre lines that can mediate DNA deletion in the lens placode. Although both of these transgenes are driven by elements of the Pax6 P0 promoter, the Le-Cre transgene consistently leads to ocular abnormalities in homozygous state and can lead to ocular defects on some genetic backgrounds when hemizygous. RESULT: Although both P0-3.9GFPCre and Le-Cre hemizygous transgenic mice undergo normal eye development on an FVB/N genetic background, Le-Cre homozygotes uniquely exhibit microphthalmia. Examination of the expression patterns of these two transgenes revealed similar expression in the developing eye and pancreas. However, lineage tracing revealed widespread non-ocular CRE reporter gene expression in the P0-3.9GFPCre transgenic mice that results from stochastic CRE expression in the P0-3.9GFPCre embryos prior to lens placode formation. Postnatal hemizygous Le-Cre transgenic lenses express higher levels of CRE transcript and protein than the hemizygous lenses of P0-3.9GFPCre mice. Transcriptome analysis revealed that Le-Cre hemizygous lenses deregulated the expression of 15 murine genes, several of which are associated with apoptosis. In contrast, P0-3.9GFPCre hemizygous lenses only deregulated two murine genes. No known PAX6-responsive genes or genes directly associated with lens differentiation were deregulated in the hemizygous Le-Cre lenses. CONCLUSIONS: Although P0-3.9GFPCre transgenic mice appear free from ocular abnormalities, extensive non-ocular CRE expression represents a potential problem for conditional gene deletion studies using this transgene. The higher level of CRE expression in Le-Cre lenses versus P0-3.9GFPCre lenses may explain abnormal lens development in homozygous Le-Cre mice. Given the lack of deregulation of PAX6-responsive transcripts, we suggest that abnormal eye development in Le-Cre transgenic mice stems from CRE toxicity. Our studies reinforce the requirement for appropriate CRE-only expressing controls when using CRE as a driver of conditional gene targeting strategies.
author list (cited authors)
Lam, P. T., Padula, S. L., Hoang, T. V., Poth, J. E., Liu, L., Liang, C., ... Robinson, M. L.
complete list of authors
Lam, Phuong T||Padula, Stephanie L||Hoang, Thanh V||Poth, Justin E||Liu, Lin||Liang, Chun||LeFever, Adam S||Wallace, Lindsay M||Ashery-Padan, Ruth||Riggs, Penny K||Shields, Jordan E||Shaham, Ohad||Rowan, Sheldon||Brown, Nadean L||Glaser, Tom||Robinson, Michael L