Conditional transgenic mouse models are important tools for investigations of neurodegenerative diseases and evaluation of potential therapeutic interventions. A popular conditional transgenic system is the binary tetracycline-responsive gene (Tet-Off) system, in which the expression of the gene of interest depends on a tetracycline-regulatable transactivator (tTA) under the control of a specific promoter construct. The most frequently used Tet-Off promoter mouse lines are the Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CamKII) and prion protein (PrP) promoter lines, respectively. To target the regulated gene of interest to relevant brain regions, a priori knowledge about the spatial distribution of the regulated gene expression in the brain is important. Such distribution patterns can be investigated using double transgenic mice in which the promoter construct regulates a LacZ reporter gene encoding the marker β-galactosidase which can be histologically detected using its substrate X-gal. We have previously published an atlas showing the brain-wide expression mediated by the Tet-Off PrP promoter mouse line, but the distribution of activity in the Tet-Off CamKII promoter mouse line is less well known. To compare promoter activity distributions in these two Tet-Off mouse lines, we have developed an online digital atlas tailored for side-by-side comparison of histological section images. The atlas provides a comprehensive list of brain regions containing X-gal labeling and an interactive dual image viewer tool for panning and zooming of corresponding section images. Comparison of spatial expression patterns between the two lines show considerable regional and cellular differences, relevant in context of generation and analysis of inducible models based on these two tetracycline responsive promoter mouse lines.
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