Inducible site-specific recombination in myelinating cells

Genesis. 2003 Jan;35(1):63-72. doi: 10.1002/gene.10154.


To explore the function of genes expressed by myelinating cells we have developed a model system that allows for the inducible ablation of predetermined genes in oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells. The Cre/loxP recombination system provides the opportunity to generate tissue-specific somatic mutations in mice. We have used a fusion protein between the Cre recombinase and a mutated ligand-binding domain of the human estrogen receptor (CreER(T)) to obtain inducible, site-specific recombination. CreER(T) expression was placed under the transcriptional control of the regulatory sequences of the myelin proteolipid protein (PLP) gene, which is abundantly expressed in oligodendrocytes and to a lesser extent in Schwann cells. The CreER(T) fusion protein translocated to the nucleus and mediated the recombination of a LacZ reporter transgene in myelinating cells of PLP/CreER(T) mice injected with the synthetic steroid tamoxifen. In untreated animals CreER(T) remained cytoplasmic, and there was no evidence of recombination. The PLP/ CreER(T) animals should be very useful in elucidating and distinguishing a particular gene's function in the formation and maintenance of the myelin sheath and in analyzing mature oligodendrocyte function in pathological conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / genetics*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*
  • Transgenes
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Viral Proteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases