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Nkx2.2 is a homeodomain-containing transcriptional regulator necessary for the appropriate differentiation of ventral neuronal populations in the spinal cord and hindbrain, and endocrine cell populations in the pancreas and intestine. In each tissue, Nkx2.2 inactivation leads to reciprocal cell fate alterations. To confirm the cell fate changes are due to respecification of Nkx2.2-expressing progenitors and to provide a novel tool for lineage tracing in the pancreas and CNS, we generated an Nkx2.2:Cre mouse line by knocking in a Cre-EGFP cassette into the Nkx2.2 genomic locus and inactivating endogenous Nkx2.2. The R26R-CAG-LSL-tdTomato reporter was used to monitor the specificity and efficiency of Nkx2.2:Cre activity; the tomato reporter faithfully recapitulated endogenous Nkx2.2 expression and could be detected as early as embryonic day (e) 9.25 in the developing CNS and was initiated shortly thereafter at e9.5 in the pancreas. Lineage analyses in the CNS confirmed the cell populations thought to be derived from Nkx2.2-expressing progenitor domains. Furthermore, lineage studies verified Nkx2.2 expression in the earliest pancreatic progenitors that give rise to all cell types of the pancreas; however they also revealed more robust Cre activity in the dorsal versus ventral pancreas. Thus, the Nkx2.2:Cre line provides a novel tool for gene manipulations in the CNS and pancreas.
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