Inducible gene knockouts in the small intestinal and colonic epithelium

Jennifer R. Saam, Jeffrey I. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


We have developed two systems for performing Cre-mediated recombination of target genes in the rapidly self-renewing mouse small intestinal and colonic epithelium. When expression of Cre recombinase is placed directly under the control of transcriptional regulatory elements from a fatty acid- binding protein gene (Fabp), deletion of loxP flanked (floxed) DNA sequences is initiated as early as embryonic day 13.5, well before completion of intestinal morphogenesis. By embryonic day 16.5, Fabp-Cre also directs recombination in all cell layers of the transitional epithelium that lines the renal calyces and pelvis, ureters, and bladder. Fabp-Cre expression and recombination are maintained in both epithelia throughout adulthood. The second system allows recombination to be induced only in the gut and at any period during adulthood. This system uses Fabp regulatory elements to direct expression of a reverse tetracycline-regulated transactivator (rtTA). Another transgene encodes Cre under the control of tet operator sequences and a minimal promoter from human cytomegalovirus (tet-O-P(hCMV)-Cre). In the absence of a doxycycline inducer, no basal recombination is detectable in the gut of adult tri-transgenic mice containing Fabp-rtTA, tetO-P(hCMV)-Cre, plus a floxed reporter gene. After 4 days of oral administration of doxycycline, recombination of the reporter is apparent in the small intestinal, cecal, and colonic epithelium. After doxycycline is withdrawn, the recombined locus persists for at least 60 days, indicating that recombination has occurred in epithelial cell progenitors that have long residency times in the proliferative units of the intestine (crypts of Lieberkuhn). This inducible system should have a number of applications for examining gene function at selected times in postnatal life, under selected physiologic or pathophysiologic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38071-38082
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number53
StatePublished - Dec 31 1999


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