BAC transgenic mice express enhanced green fluorescent protein in central and peripheral cholinergic neurons

Physiol Genomics. 2006 Nov 27;27(3):391-7. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00092.2006. Epub 2006 Aug 29.


The peripheral nervous system has complex and intricate ramifications throughout many target organ systems. To date this system has not been effectively labeled by genetic markers, due largely to inadequate transcriptional specification by minimum promoter constructs. Here we describe transgenic mice in which enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) is expressed under the control of endogenous choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) transcriptional regulatory elements, by knock-in of eGFP within a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) spanning the ChAT locus and expression of this construct as a transgene. eGFP is expressed in ChAT(BAC)-eGFP mice in central and peripheral cholinergic neurons, including cell bodies and processes of the somatic motor, somatic sensory, and parasympathetic nervous system in gastrointestinal, respiratory, urogenital, cardiovascular, and other peripheral organ systems. Individual epithelial cells and a subset of lymphocytes within the gastrointestinal and airway mucosa are also labeled, indicating genetic evidence of acetylcholine biosynthesis. Central and peripheral neurons were observed as early as 10.5 days postcoitus in the developing mouse embryo. ChAT(BAC)-eGFP mice allow excellent visualization of all cholinergic elements of the peripheral nervous system, including the submucosal enteric plexus, preganglionic autonomic nerves, and skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle neuromuscular junctions. These mice should be useful for in vivo studies of cholinergic neurotransmission and neuromuscular coupling. Moreover, this genetic strategy allows the selective expression and conditional inactivation of genes of interest in cholinergic nerves of the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / genetics*
  • Cholinergic Fibers / metabolism*
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Peripheral Nervous System / cytology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / embryology
  • Peripheral Nervous System / metabolism*


  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase