The neuron-specific rat enolase (NSE) promoter was employed to establish transgenic mice expressing Cre recombinase in the central nervous system. Founders were crossed with dormant lacZ indicator mice and specificity as well as efficiency of Cre-mediated transgene activation was determined by PCR and/or X-gal staining. Whereas most transgenic lines exhibited Cre activity in early development resulting in widespread Cre activity, one line (NSE-Cre26) expressed high levels of Cre in the developing and adult brain. With the exception of kidney, which showed occasionally low level of Cre activity, Cre recombination in double transgenics was restricted to the nervous system. Whole-mount X-gal staining of 9.5 dpc embryos indicated Cre-mediated lacZ expression in forebrain, hindbrain, and along the midbrain flexure. A similar expression pattern was observed during later stages of embryogenesis (11.5-13.5 dpc). In adult mice, Cre recombinase was expressed in cerebral cortex and cerebellum and high levels of Cre-mediated lacZ expression were observed in hippocampus, cortex, and septum. The NSE-Cre26 transgenic mouse line thus provides a useful tool to specifically overexpress and/or inactivate genes in the developing and adult brain.
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