The cytoskeletal protein SM22alpha is expressed in visceral and vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs), in cardiac myocytes, and in the myotomal components of the somites during murine embryonic development. In this report, we describe the generation and characterization of transgenic mice expressing Cre-recombinase under the transcriptional control of the -2.8-kb SM22alpha promoter. Following interbreeding with the R26R reporter strain, Cre-dependent beta-galactosidase expression was observed as early as embryonic day 9.5 in SMCs of the developing vasculature, in cardiac myocytes, but not in the somites. In adult mice, Cre-mediated recombination was observed in vascular SMCs throughout the venous and arterial systems, in visceral SMCs in multiple organs, and in cardiac, but not skeletal muscle. Importantly, Cre-mediated recombination was present in nearly 100% of arterial SMCs, including in the aorta. These mice are thus an important new tool for performing in vivo loss-of-function studies of genes expressed in vascular SMCs.
Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.