Sox10-cre BAC transgenes reveal temporal restriction of mesenchymal cranial neural crest and identify glandular Sox10 expression

Dev Biol. 2021 Mar;471:119-137. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2020.12.006. Epub 2020 Dec 13.


Diversity of neural crest derivatives has been studied with a variety of approaches during embryonic development. In mammals Cre-LoxP lineage tracing is a robust means to fate map neural crest relying on cre driven from regulatory elements of early neural crest genes. Sox10 is an essential transcription factor for normal neural crest development. A variety of efforts have been made to label neural crest derivatives using partial Sox10 regulatory elements to drive cre expression. To date published Sox10-cre lines have focused primarily on lineage tracing in specific tissues or during early fetal development. We describe two new Sox10-cre BAC transgenes, constitutive (cre) and inducible (cre/ERT2), that contain the complete repertoire of Sox10 regulatory elements. We present a thorough expression profile of each, identifying a few novel sites of Sox10 expression not captured by other neural crest cre drivers. Comparative mapping of expression patterns between the Sox10-cre and Sox10-cre/ERT2 transgenes identified a narrow temporal window in which Sox10 expression is present in mesenchymal derivatives prior to becoming restricted to neural elements during embryogenesis. In more caudal structures, such as the intestine and lower urinary tract, our Sox10-cre BAC transgene appears to be more efficient in labeling neural crest-derived cell types than Wnt1-cre. The analysis reveals consistent expression of Sox10 in non-neural crest derived glandular epithelium, including salivary, mammary, and urethral glands of adult mice. These Sox10-cre and Sox10-cre/ERT2 transgenic lines are verified tools that will enable refined temporal and cell-type specific lineage analysis of neural crest derivatives as well as glandular tissues that rely on Sox10 for proper development and function.

Keywords: BAC transgene; Cre; Enteric nervous system; Glandular epithelium; Lower urinary tract; Neural crest; Sox10.