Characterization of neural promoter/enhancers is essential for understanding gene regulation during brain development and provides useful genetic tools. However, it relies on the use of transgenic mice. We report a method for the rapid in vivo analysis of neural promoter/enhancers in the developing mouse brain and its application in the isolation of the doublecortin (DCX) promoter/enhancer for genetic labeling of young neurons. In the present study, we demonstrated that reporter genes introduced into the developing mouse cerebral cortex by in utero electroporation can achieve promoter/enhancer-specific patterns of expression. We used the in utero electroporation system to isolate a genomic fragment of the doublecortin gene that can direct reporter expression faithful to doublecortin in young neurons of the cerebral cortex. Finally, we showed that the DCX promoter identified via electroporation could reproduce doublecortin expression in the entire central nervous system in DCX-DsRed-express transgenic mice. The results of our study provide a convenient, reliable, and rapid method for in vivo analysis of neural promoter/enhancers in the developing mouse brain.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.