Retinoic acid, the active vitamin A derivative, has pleiotropic functions during vertebrate development and postnatal life. Retinaldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (RALDH2) acts as the main retinoic acid-synthesizing enzyme during development. Mouse Raldh2 germline null mutants are early embryonic lethal and exhibit complex abnormalities that include defective heart looping morphogenesis. To investigate later functions of this enzyme, we have engineered a "floxed" (loxP-flanked) allele allowing Cre-mediated somatic gene inactivations. Mice heterozygous or homozygous for the floxed Raldh2 allele are viable and fertile. We tested whether the novel Raldh2 allele behaves as a null mutation after Cre-mediated in vivo excision by crossing the conditional mutants with CMV-Cre transgenic mice. An embryonic lethal phenotype indistinguishable from that of germline mutants was obtained. The conditional allele described herein is a genetic tool for studying tissue-specific, RALDH2-dependent functions of retinoic acid during development and in adult life.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.