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Dev Biol. 1999 Dec 1;216(1):154-63.

Tyrosinase-related protein 2 promoter targets transgene expression to ocular and neural crest-derived tissues.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, 77030, USA.


In an effort to identify a promoter suitable for studying early ocular development, we generated transgenic mice carrying the lacZ reporter gene linked to the tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP2) promoter. TRP2-lacZ was expressed in early retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and early neural crest cells in embryos. The promoter activity was robust and consistent in independent transgenic lines. The transgene was also expressed in the optic nerve and neural crest-derived neuronal cells in which the endogenous TRP2 gene is not expressed. This suggests that repressor elements may be missing in the promoter used in this study. To test whether this promoter can be used to study melanocyte development, we cross-mated TRP2-lacZ transgenic mice with mice heterozygous for the Patch (Ph) mutation. The pattern of beta-galactosidase activity in the embryos correlates well with the pigmentation phenotype in postnatal and adult Ph/+ mice. We also generated transgenic mice expressing fibroblast growth factor 9 (FGF9) directed by the TRP2 promoter and examined the effect on ocular development. Ectopic expression of FGF9 in the early embryonic RPE switched its differentiation pathway to a neuronal fate, resulting in formation of a duplicated neural retina in transgenic mice. These studies demonstrate that the TRP2 promoter is valuable for transgenic studies of ocular differentiation and development of neural crest cells.

Copyright 1999 Academic Press.

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