Tackling Tissue Macrophage Heterogeneity by SplitCre Transgenesis

Methods Mol Biol. 2024:2713:481-503. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3437-0_32.


Macrophages represent a broad spectrum of distinct, but closely related tissue-resident immune cells. This presents a major challenge for the study of functional aspects of these cells using classical Cre recombinase-mediated conditional mutagenesis in mice, since single promoter-driven Cre transgenic models often display limited specificity toward their intended target. The advent of CRISPR/Cas9 technology has now provided a time- and cost-effective method to explore the full potential of binary transgenic, intersectional genetics. Specifically, the use of two promoters driving inactive Cre fragments that, when co-expressed, dimerize and only then gain recombinase activity allows the characterization and manipulation of genetically defined tissue macrophage subpopulations. Here, we will elaborate on the use of this protocol to capitalize on these recent technological advances in mouse genetics and discuss their strengths and pitfalls to improve the study of tissue macrophage subpopulations in physiology and pathophysiology.

Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; Cre loxP; intersectional genetics; splitCre; tissue macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Dimerization
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Macrophages*
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis