Retinal photoreceptors are highly differentiated postmitotic neurons that transduce photons into electrical signals. While the functions of many photoreceptor-specific genes can be evaluated by direct gene targeting, here we facilitate the studies of nonphotoreceptor-specific genes in these cells by developing an Opsin-iCre transgenic mouse line, iCre-75, in which a 4-kb mouse rod opsin promoter drives the expression of bacteriophage P1 Cre recombinase. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that Cre recombinase is present exclusively in the outer nuclear layer of iCre75 mouse retina. Cre expression is found only in rods and not in cones. The expression level reached 188+/-44 ng per retina at postnatal day (pnd) 11 and increased to 687+/-56 ng at 2 months and older. Cre-mediated excision of floxed genomic DNA was absent at pnd 4, became detectable at pnd 7, and was completed by pnd 18. Retinal morphology and electroretinograms were normal in 8-month-old transgenic animals. The iCre-75 transgenic mice are thus suitable for future genetic studies of essential genes in retinal rod photoreceptors.
Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.