Spatial and temporal expression of the Cre gene under the control of the MMTV-LTR in different lines of transgenic mice

Transgenic Res. 2001 Dec;10(6):545-53. doi: 10.1023/a:1013063514007.


Cre-loxP based gene deletion approaches hold great promise to enhance our understanding of molecular pathways controlling mammary development and breast cancer. We reported earlier the generation of transgenic mice that express the Cre recombinase under the control of the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) long terminal repeat (LTR). These mice have become a valuable research tool to delete genes specifically in the mammary gland, other secretory organs, and the female germline. We have now characterized in depth the expression of the MMTV-Cre transgene using the ROSA26-lox-Stop-lox-LacZ reporter strain to determine the temporal and spatial activation of Cre on the level of single cells. Our results show that MMTV-mediated Cre-activation is restricted to specific cell types of various secretory tissues and the hematopoietic system. Secondly, the timing of Cre expression varies between tissues and cell types. Some tissues express Cre during embryonic development, while other selected cell types highly activate Cre around puberty, suggesting a strong influence of steroid hormones on the transcriptional activation of the MMTV-LTR. Thirdly, Cre expression in the female germline is restricted to individual mouse lines and is therefore dependent on the site of integration of the transgene. Information provided by this study will guide the researcher to those cell types and developmental stages at which a phenotype can be expected upon deletion of relevant genes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Integrases / biosynthesis*
  • Integrases / genetics*
  • Male
  • Mammary Tumor Virus, Mouse / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Factors
  • Terminal Repeat Sequences / genetics*
  • Time Factors
  • Transgenes
  • Viral Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • Viral Proteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases