Neural crest cells are embryonic, multipotent stem cells that give rise to various cell/tissue types and thus serve as a good model system for the study of cell specification and mechanisms of cell differentiation. For analysis of neural crest cell lineage, an efficient method has been devised for manipulating the mouse genome through the Cre-loxP system. We generated transgenic mice harboring a Cre gene driven by a promoter of protein 0 (P0). To detect the Cre-mediated DNA recombination, we crossed P0-Cre transgenic mice with CAG-CAT-Z indicator transgenic mice. The CAG-CAT-Z Tg line carries a lacZ gene downstream of a chicken beta-actin promoter and a "stuffer" fragment flanked by two loxP sequences, so that lacZ is expressed only when the stuffer is removed by the action of Cre recombinase. In three different P0-Cre lines crossed with CAG-CAT-Z Tg, embryos carrying both transgenes showed lacZ expression in tissues derived from neural crest cells, such as spinal dorsal root ganglia, sympathetic nervous system, enteric nervous system, and ventral craniofacial mesenchyme at stages later than 9.0 dpc. These findings give some insights into neural crest cell differentiation in mammals. We believe that P0-Cre transgenic mice will facilitate many interesting experiments, including lineage analysis, purification, and genetic manipulation of the mammalian neural crest cells.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.