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Fluorescent protein (FP) reporter alleles are useful both for identifying and purifying specific cell populations in the mouse. Here, we report the generation of mouse embryonic stem cells that contain a pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (Pdx1) loxed cassette acceptor (Pdx1(LCA)) allele and the use of recombinase-mediated cassette exchange to derive mice that contain a Pdx1(CFP) (Cerulean) reporter allele. Mice with this allele exhibited cyan fluorescence within the previously well-characterized Pdx1 expression domain in posterior foregut endoderm. Immunolabeling showed that endogenous Pdx1 was coexpressed with CFP at all time points examined. Furthermore, fluorescence-activated cell sorting was used to isolate CFP-positive cells from E11.5 and E18.5 embryonic tissues using both 405 and 445 nm lasers, although the latter resulted in a nearly 50-fold increase in emission intensity. The Pdx1(CFP) allele will enable the isolation of specific foregut endoderm and pancreatic cell populations, both alone and in combination with other FP reporter alleles.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have great utility in identifying specific cell populations and in studying cellular dynamics in the mouse. To quantify the factors that determine both the expression and relative brightness of FPs in mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) and in mice, we generated eight different FP-expressing ROSA26 alleles using recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE). These alleles enabled us to analyze the effects on FP expression of a translational enhancer and different 3'-intronic and/or polyadenylation sequences, as well as the relative brightness of five different FPs, without the confounding position and copy number effects that are typically associated with randomly inserted transgenes. We found that the expression of a given FP can vary threefold or more depending on the genetic features present in the allele. The optimal FP expression cassette contained both a translational enhancer sequence in the 5'-untranslated region (UTR) and an intron-containing rabbit β-globin sequence within the 3'-UTR. The relative expressed brightness of individual FPs varied up to tenfold. Of the five different monomeric FPs tested, Citrine (YFP) was the brightest, followed by Apple, eGFP, Cerulean (CFP) and Cherry. Generation of a line of Cherry-expressing mice showed that there was a 30-fold variation of Cherry expression among different tissues and that there was a punctate expression pattern within cells of all tissues examined. This study should help investigators make better-informed design choices when expressing FPs in mESCs and mice.
Tyrosine site-specific recombinases (SSRs) including Cre and FLP are essential tools for DNA and genome engineering. Cre has long been recognized as the best SSR for genome engineering, particularly in mice. Obtaining another SSR that is as good as Cre will be a valuable addition to the genomic toolbox. To this end, we have developed and validated reagents for the Dre-rox system. These include an Escherichia coli-inducible expression vector based on the temperature-sensitive pSC101 plasmid, a mammalian expression vector based on the CAGGs promoter, a rox-lacZ reporter embryonic stem (ES) cell line based on targeting at the Rosa26 locus, the accompanying Rosa26-rox reporter mouse line, and a CAGGs-Dre deleter mouse line. We also show that a Dre-progesterone receptor shows good ligand-responsive induction properties. Furthermore, we show that there is no crossover recombination between Cre-rox or Dre-loxP. Hence, we add another set of efficient tools to the genomic toolbox, which will enable the development of more sophisticated mouse models for the analysis of gene function and disease.
Many questions in molecular and cellular biology can be reduced to questions about 'who talks to whom, when and how frequently'. Here, we review approaches we have used with single-pair fluorescence resonance energy transfer (spFRET) to follow the motions between two well-placed fluorescent probes to ask similar questions. We describe two systems. We have used a nucleosomal system in which the naked DNA molecule has the acceptor and donor dyes too far apart for FRET to occur whereas the dyes are close enough in the reconstituted nucleosome for FRET. As these individual nucleosomes were tethered on a surface, we could follow dynamics in the repositioning of these two dyes, inferring that nucleosomes stochastically and reversibly open and close. These results imply that most of the DNA on the nucleosome can be sporadically accessible to regulatory proteins and proteins that track the DNA double helix. In the case of following the binding of recombination protein RecA to double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and the RecA filament displacement by DNA helicase motor PcrA, the dsDNA template is prepared with the two dyes close enough to each other to generate high FRET. Binding of the RecA molecules to form a filament lengthens the dsDNA molecule 1.5-fold and reduces the FRET accordingly. Once added, DNA motor protein helicase PcrA can displace the RecA filament with concomitant return of the DNA molecule to its original B-form and high FRET state. Thus, appropriately placed fluorescent dyes can be used to monitor conformational changes occurring in DNA and or proteins and provide increased sensitivity for investigating dynamic DNA-protein interactions in real time.
Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor, pVHL, is associated with both hereditary and sporadic renal cysts and renal cell carcinoma, which are commonly thought to arise from the renal proximal tubule. pVHL regulates the protein stability of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-alpha subunits and loss of pVHL function leads to HIF stabilization. The role of HIF in the development of VHL-associated renal lesions remains to be determined. To investigate the functional consequences of pVHL inactivation and the role of HIF signaling in renal epithelial cells, we used the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) promoter to generate transgenic mice in which Cre-recombinase is expressed in the renal proximal tubule and in hepatocytes. We found that conditional inactivation of VHL in PEPCK-Cre mutants resulted in renal cyst development that was associated with increased erythropoietin levels and polycythemia. Increased expression of the HIF target gene erythropoietin was limited to the liver, whereas expression of carbonic anhydrase 9 and multidrug resistance gene 1 was up-regulated in the renal cortex of mutant mice. Inactivation of the HIF-alpha binding partner, arylhydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (Arnt), but not Hif-1alpha, suppressed the development of renal cysts. Here, we present the first mouse model of VHL-associated renal disease that will provide a basis for further genetic studies to define the molecular events that are required for the progression of VHL-associated renal cysts to clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Conventional gene targeting has been very useful in the study of gene function and regulation in mice. However, the methodologies involved have several limitations. First, mutations that cause embryonic lethality largely preclude studies of gene function at a later stage in development. Second, conditional and/or tissue-specific alterations of gene expression cannot be achieved using these methods. In addition, classical gene targeting can be difficult and time consuming. Strategies that make use of site-specific recombinases such as Cre and/or Flp have been developed in recent years to overcome these limitations. These new techniques include global and conditional knockouts, recombinase-mediated DNA insertion (RMDI), and recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE). Together, they have tremendously increased the number and variety of genetic manipulations that can be achieved.
Recombinase-mediated cassette exchange (RMCE), when applied to mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, promises to increase the ease with which genetic alterations can be introduced into targeted genomic loci in the mouse. However, existing selection strategies for identifying ES cells in which replacement DNA cassettes from a carrier plasmid have been exchanged correctly into a defined locus are suboptimal. Here, we report the generation in mouse ES cells of a loxed cassette acceptor (LCA) allele within the glucokinase (gk) gene locus. Using the gkLCA as a test allele, we developed a staggered positive-negative selection strategy that facilitates efficient identification of ES cell clones in which a DNA replacement cassette from a carrier plasmid has been exchanged correctly into the gkLCA allele. This selection strategy, by facilitating more efficient production of ES cell clones with various replacement DNA cassettes, should accelerate targeted repetitive introduction of gene modifications into the mouse.
2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
V(D)J recombination is initiated by a coordinated cleavage reaction that nicks DNA at two sites and then forms a hairpin coding end and blunt signal end at each site. Following cleavage, the DNA ends are joined by a process that is incompletely understood but nevertheless depends on DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK), which consists of Ku and a 460-kDa catalytic subunit (DNA-PKCS or p460). Ku directs DNA-PKCS to DNA ends to efficiently activate the kinase. In vivo, the mouse SCID mutation in DNA-PKCS disrupts joining of the hairpin coding ends but spares joining of the open signal ends. To better understand the mechanism of V(D)J recombination, we measured the activation of DNA-PK by the three DNA structures formed during the cleavage reaction: open ends, DNA nicks, and hairpin ends. Although open DNA ends strongly activated DNA-PK, nicked DNA substrates and hairpin-ended DNA did not. Therefore, even though efficient processing of hairpin coding ends requires DNA-PKCS, this may occur by activation of the kinase bound to the cogenerated open signal end rather than to the hairpin end itself.
X-ray-sensitive hamster cells in complementation groups 4, 5, 6, and 7 are impaired for both double-strand break repair and V(D)J recombination. Here we show that in two mutant cell lines (XR-V15B and XR-V9B) from group 5, the genetic defects are in the gene encoding the 86-kDa subunit of the Ku autoantigen, a nuclear protein that binds to the double-stranded DNA ends. These mutants express Ku86 mRNA containing deletions of 138 and 252 bp, respectively, and the encoded proteins contain internal, in-frame deletions of 46 and 84 amino acids. Two X-ray-resistant revertants of XR-V15B expressed two Ku86 transcripts, one with and one without the deletion, suggesting that reversion occurred by activation of a silent wild-type allele. Transfection of full-length cDNA encoding hamster Ku86 into XR-V15B cells resulted in a complete rescue of DNA-end-binding (DEB) activity and Ku70 levels, suggesting that Ku86 stabilizes the Ku70 polypeptide. In addition, cells expressing wild-type levels of DEB activity were fully rescued for X-ray resistance and V(D)J recombination, whereas cells expressing lower levels of DEB activity were only partially rescued. Thus, Ku is an essential component of the pathway(s) utilized for the resolution of DNA double-strand breaks induced by either X rays or V(D)J recombination, and mutations in the Ku86 gene are responsible for the phenotype of group 5 cells.