Targeted deletion of the connexin36 (Cx36) gene in the mouse genome leads to visual transmission defects, weakened synchrony of rhythmic inhibitory potentials in the neocortex, and disruption of gamma-frequency network oscillations. We have generated transgenic mice in which a reporter protein consisting of the exon1 coded N-terminal part of Cx36 fused to beta-galactosidase (N36-beta-gal) is expressed instead of Cx36. Here, we have used these mice for a detailed analysis of the reporter gene expression. By beta-gal staining of adult retina, we found expression of the lacZ reporter gene in the ganglion cell layer, in two rows of the inner nuclear layer, and in the photoreceptor layer. In the brain, beta-gal staining was present in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic neurons of the cerebellar nuclei, in non-GABAergic neurons of the inferior olive, in mitral cells of the olfactory bulb, and in parvalbumin-positive cells of the cerebral cortex. Outside the central nervous system, N36-beta-gal signals were detected in insulin producing beta-cells of the pancreas and in the medulla of the adrenal gland of adult Cx36(+/del[LacZ]) mice. This expression pattern suggests that Cx36 fulfills functional roles not only in several types of neurons in the retina and central nervous system but also in excitable cells of the pancreas and adrenal gland.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.