In this study, we have addressed the impact of the mouse tyrosinase enhancer on regulated expression from the mouse tyrosinase promoter during embryonic development. Stable and transient transgenic experiments using the reporter gene lacZ reveal that (1) expression is detected in neural crest-derived melanoblasts from E11.5 onward, (2) the enhancer does not increase transgenic expression in optic cup-derived pigment cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and (3) expression in the telencephalon is not any longer detected. The importance of the enhancer for expression in pigment cells of the eye was further investigated in adult mice using an attenuated diphtheria toxin A gene. This demonstrated that in presence of the enhancer the transgene expression is specifically targeted to neural crest-derived melanocytes of the choroid and not, or slightly, to the RPE. This suggests that tyrosinase is differentially regulated in the two pigment cell lineages, and that this promoter can be used to target expression preferentially to the neural crest-derived melanocyte lineage.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.