We generated two complementary systems for Cre-mediated recombination of target genes in the mouse digestive epithelium and tested them with a Cre-reporter mouse strain. Cre was expressed under the control of a 9 kb regulatory region of the murine villin gene (vil-Cre). Genetic recombination was initiated at embryonic day (E) 9 in the visceral endoderm, and by E12.5 in the entire intestinal epithelium, but not in other tissues. Cre expression was maintained throughout adulthood. Furthermore, transgenic mice bearing a tamoxifen-dependent Cre recombinase (vil-Cre-ERT2) expressed under the control of the villin promoter were created to perform targeted spatiotemporally controlled somatic recombination. After tamoxifen treatment, recombination was detectable throughout the digestive epithelium. The recombined locus persisted for 60 days after tamoxifen administration, despite rapid intestinal cell renewal, indicating that epithelial progenitor cells had been targeted. The villin-Cre and villin-Cre-ERT2 mice provide valuable tools for studies of cell lineage allocation and gene function in the developing and adult intestine.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.