In the Cre-loxp system, expression level and activity of Cre recombinase in a Cre deleter line are critical because these determine not only the cell specificity of gene knockout (KO), but also the efficiency of Cre-mediated excision in a specific cell lineage. Although the spatiotemporal expression pattern of a Cre transgene is usually defined upon the generation of the mouse line, the Cre excision efficiency in a specific targeted cell lineage is rarely evaluated and often assumed to be 100%. Incomplete excision can lead to highly variable phenotypes owing to mosaicism (i.e., coexistence of cells with the flox or the recombined flox allele) and this problem has long been overlooked. Here, we report that Stra8-codon-improved Cre recombinase (iCre), a transgenic allele expressing iCre under the control of the male germ cell-specific Stra8 promoter, could efficiently delete one Mov10l1 flox allele in spermatogenic cells, whereas the excision was incomplete when two Mov10l1 flox alleles were present. The incomplete Cre-mediated excision led to a testicular phenotype that was much less severe than that in the true conditional KO (inactivation, 100%) mice. Our findings suggest that it is essential to determine the efficiency of Cre excision when Cre-loxp system is used for deleting genes in a specific cell lineage and the Cre; genelox/Δ genotype should be used to evaluate phenotypes instead of Cre; genelox/lox owing to the fact that the latter usually bears incomplete deletion of the flox allele(s). genesis 51:481-490.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology