Pdgfrb-Cre targets lymphatic endothelial cells of both venous and non-venous origins

Genesis. 2016 Jun;54(6):350-8. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22939. Epub 2016 Apr 21.


The Pdgfrb-Cre line has been used as a tool to specifically target pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. Recent studies showed additional targeting of cardiac and mesenteric lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) by the Pdgfrb-Cre transgene. In the heart, this was suggested to provide evidence for a previously unknown nonvenous source of LECs originating from yolk sac (YS) hemogenic endothelium (HemEC). Here we show that Pdgfrb-Cre does not, however, target YS HemEC or YS-derived erythro-myeloid progenitors (EMPs). Instead, a high proportion of ECs in embryonic blood vessels of multiple organs, as well as venous-derived LECs were targeted. Assessment of temporal Cre activity using the R26-mTmG double reporter suggested recent occurrence of Pdgfrb-Cre recombination in both blood and lymphatic ECs. It thus cannot be excluded that Pdgfrb-Cre mediated targeting of LECs is due to de novo expression of the Pdgfrb-Cre transgene or their previously established venous endothelial origin. Importantly, Pdgfrb-Cre targeting of LECs does not provide evidence for YS HemEC origin of the lymphatic vasculature. Our results highlight the need for careful interpretation of lineage tracing using constitutive Cre lines that cannot discriminate active from historical expression. The early vascular targeting by the Pdgfrb-Cre also warrants consideration for its use in studies of mural cells. genesis 54:350-358, 2016. © 2016 The Authors. Genesis Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: lymphangiogenesis; lymphvasculogenesis; mural cell; vascular development.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Gene Targeting
  • Heart / growth & development*
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Lymphangiogenesis / genetics*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / metabolism
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism
  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta / genetics*
  • Veins / growth & development
  • Veins / metabolism
  • Yolk Sac / growth & development
  • Yolk Sac / metabolism


  • Receptor, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor beta
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases