To facilitate dynamic imaging of neural crest (NC) lineages and discrimination of individual cells in the enteric nervous system (ENS) where close juxtaposition often complicates viewing, we generated a mouse BAC transgenic line that drives a Histone2BVenus (H2BVenus) reporter from Sox10 regulatory regions. This strategy does not alter the endogenous Sox10 locus and thus facilitates analysis of normal NC development. Our Sox10-H2BVenus BAC transgene exhibits temporal, spatial, and cell-type specific expression that reflects endogenous Sox10 patterns. Individual cells exhibiting nuclear-localized fluorescence of the H2BVenus reporter are readily visualized in both fixed and living tissue and are amenable to isolation by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS). FACS-isolated H2BVenus+ enteric NC-derived progenitors (ENPs) exhibit multipotency, readily form neurospheres, self-renew in vitro and express a variety of stem cell genes. Dynamic live imaging as H2BVenus+ ENPs migrate down the fetal gut reveals cell fragmentation suggesting that apoptosis occurs at a low frequency during normal development of the ENS. Confocal imaging both during population of the fetal intestine and in postnatal gut muscle strips revealed differential expression between individual cells consistent with down-regulation of the transgene as progression towards non-glial fates occurs. The expression of the Sox10-H2BVenus transgene in multiple regions of the peripheral nervous system will facilitate future studies of NC lineage segregation as this tool is expressed in early NC progenitors and maintained in enteric glia.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.