Analysis of mammalian cis-regulatory DNA elements by homologous recombination

Methods Enzymol. 1999;306:42-66. doi: 10.1016/s0076-6879(99)06005-x.


The use of homologous recombination to modify and thereby functionally analyze cis-regulatory DNA elements in mammalian cells has become an important approach in mammalian gene expression research. We have emphasized the necessity of designing a system that allows the removal of selectable markers used in targeting and facilitates the further modification of the region under study. To perform these tasks, we presently favor making an initial HR-mediated replacement of the entire element under study with an active positive selectable marker in combination with either an inactive second positive selectable marker or an active negative selectable marker. The plug and socket system, in which an inactive selectable marker is complemented by HR, is the most dependable and well-characterized option for making secondary modifications. However, the double-replacement system has certain advantages, and the recently developed RMCE approach, which allows replacement of a negative selectable marker by site-specific recombinase-mediated insertion without using a positive selectable marker, will likely prove very valuable in future experiments. Each of the systems, or combinations thereof, should be considered in light of the specifics of any given experiment to select the most appropriate option. Although the emphasis of this article has been the analysis of cis-acting regulatory elements involved in transcription, these same approaches can be used to analyze other regulatory elements (e.g., origins of replication) and to make multiple subtle mutations in polypeptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins*


  • Viral Proteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • FLP recombinase
  • Integrases