Generation of a KOR-Cre knockin mouse strain to study cells involved in kappa opioid signaling

Genesis. 2016 Jan;54(1):29-37. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22910. Epub 2015 Dec 18.


The kappa opioid receptor (KOR) has numerous important roles in the nervous system including the modulation of mood, reward, pain, and itch. In addition, KOR is expressed in many non-neuronal tissues. However, the specific cell types that express KOR are poorly characterized. Here, we report the development of a KOR-Cre knockin allele, which provides genetic access to cells that express KOR. In this mouse, Cre recombinase (Cre) replaces the initial coding sequence of the Opkr1 gene (encoding the kappa opioid receptor). We demonstrate that the KOR-Cre allele mediates recombination by embryonic day 14.5 (E14.5). Within the brain, KOR-Cre shows expression in numerous areas including the cerebral cortex, nucleus accumbens and striatum. In addition, this allele is expressed in epithelium and throughout many regions of the body including the heart, lung, and liver. Finally, we reveal that KOR-Cre mediates recombination of a subset of bipolar and amacrine cells in the retina. Thus, the KOR-Cre mouse line is a valuable new tool for conditional gene manipulation to enable the study of KOR.

Keywords: Cre-loxP system; KOPr; OPRK1; genetics; opioid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Integrases / chemistry
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Animal
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / genetics*
  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Opioid, kappa
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases