Alteration of the mouse genome through homologous recombination in embryonic stem (ES) cells is the most accurate and versatile way to dissect gene function in a vertebrate model. Most often, a selectable marker is used to create a knockout allele by replacing an essential part of the gene. However, knockout strategies are limited because the mutation is present constitutively. Conditional approaches based on the Cre-loxP site-specific recombination (SSR) system address this limitation; however, it requires that all parts of the targeted gene remain in ES cells. Here we report success with a "knockout-first" strategy that ablates gene function by insertion of RNA processing signals without deletion of any of the target gene. Incorporation of site-specific recombination target sites creates a multipurpose allele for both knockout and conditional applications.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.