Here, we exploit an absolute differential between stem and progeny cells in their ability to express Cre from a somatically inducible transgene to determine the longevity of intestinal Paneth cells. In the Ahcre transgenic line induction of Cre recombinase allows constitutive activation of a Cre-activated reporter in intestinal precursors but not in Paneth cells. The time taken for Paneth cells to inherit the reporter (EYFP) was measured in adult Ahcre/R26R-EYFP animals. Using confocal microscopy of TOPRO-3-stained sections, both precursors and Paneth cells were identified and subsequently scored for EYFP expression. It takes up to 57 days for Paneth cells to inherit the reporter, making them three times longer-lived than previously indicated using nucleotide incorporation and suggesting that such determinations of cell turnover may be significant underestimates.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.