Astrocytes are thought to play a variety of key roles in the adult brain, such as their participation in synaptic transmission, in wound healing upon brain injury, and adult neurogenesis. However, to elucidate these functions in vivo has been difficult because of the lack of astrocyte-specific gene targeting. Here we show that the inducible form of Cre (CreERT2) expressed in the locus of the astrocyte-specific glutamate transporter (GLAST) allows precisely timed gene deletion in adult astrocytes as well as radial glial cells at earlier developmental stages. Moreover, postnatal and adult neurogenesis can be targeted at different stages with high efficiency as it originates from astroglial cells. Taken together, this mouse line will allow dissecting the molecular pathways regulating the diverse functions of astrocytes as precursors, support cells, repair cells, and cells involved in neuronal information processing.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.