Applications of myeloid-specific promoters in transgenic mice support in vivo imaging and functional genomics but do not support the concept of distinct macrophage and dendritic cell lineages or roles in immunity

J Leukoc Biol. 2011 Apr;89(4):525-38. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0810472. Epub 2010 Dec 17.


Myeloid lineage cells contribute to innate and acquired immunity, homeostasis, wound repair, and inflammation. There is considerable interest in manipulation of their function in transgenic mice using myeloid-specific promoters. This review considers the applications and specificity of some of the most widely studied transgenes, driven by promoter elements of the lysM, csf1r, CD11c, CD68, macrophage SRA, and CD11b genes, as well as several others. Transgenes have been used in mice to generate myeloid lineage-specific cell ablation, expression of genes of interest, including fluorescent reporters, or deletion via recombination. In general, the specificity of such transgenes has been overinterpreted, and none of them provide well-documented, reliable, differential expression in any specific myeloid cell subset, macrophages, granulocytes, or myeloid DCs. Nevertheless, they have proved valuable in cell isolation, functional genomics, and live imaging of myeloid cell behavior in many different pathologies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Luminescent Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology
  • Myeloid Cells / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Transgenes / physiology*


  • Luminescent Proteins