A Transgenic Line That Reports CSF1R Protein Expression Provides a Definitive Marker for the Mouse Mononuclear Phagocyte System

J Immunol. 2020 Dec 1;205(11):3154-3166. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2000835. Epub 2020 Nov 2.


The proliferation, differentiation, and survival of cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS; progenitors, monocytes, macrophages, and classical dendritic cells) are controlled by signals from the M-CSF receptor (CSF1R). Cells of the MPS lineage have been identified using numerous surface markers and transgenic reporters, but none is both universal and lineage restricted. In this article, we report the development and characterization of a CSF1R reporter mouse. A FusionRed (FRed) cassette was inserted in-frame with the C terminus of CSF1R, separated by a T2A-cleavable linker. The insertion had no effect of CSF1R expression or function. CSF1R-FRed was expressed in monocytes and macrophages and absent from granulocytes and lymphocytes. In bone marrow, CSF1R-FRed was absent in lineage-negative hematopoietic stem cells, arguing against a direct role for CSF1R in myeloid lineage commitment. It was highly expressed in marrow monocytes and common myeloid progenitors but significantly lower in granulocyte-macrophage progenitors. In sections of bone marrow, CSF1R-FRed was also detected in osteoclasts, CD169+ resident macrophages, and, consistent with previous mRNA analysis, in megakaryocytes. In lymphoid tissues, CSF1R-FRed highlighted diverse MPS populations, including classical dendritic cells. Whole mount imaging of nonlymphoid tissues in mice with combined CSF1R-FRed/Csf1r-EGFP confirmed the restriction of CSF1R expression to MPS cells. The two markers highlight the remarkable abundance and regular distribution of tissue MPS cells, including novel macrophage populations within tendon and skeletal muscle and underlying the mesothelial/serosal/capsular surfaces of every major organ. The CSF1R-FRed mouse provides a novel reporter with exquisite specificity for cells of the MPS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Mononuclear Phagocyte System / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptor, Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Receptors, Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism*
  • Tendons / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Csf1r protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Receptor, Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor