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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jul 22;105(29):10137-42. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800487105. Epub 2008 Jul 11.

A Cre-loxP-based mouse model for conditional somatic gene expression and knockdown in vivo by using avian retroviral vectors.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine 2, Technische Universität München, Ismaningerstrasse 22, 81675 Munich, Germany.


Site- and time-specific somatic gene transfer by using the avian sarcoma-leukosis retrovirus RCAS (replication-competent avian sarcoma-leukosis virus long terminal repeat with splice acceptor) has been shown to be a powerful tool to analyze gene function in vivo. RCAS retroviruses that express the avian subgroup A envelope transduce only mammalian cells genetically engineered to express the avian retroviral receptor, tumor virus A (TVA). Here, we generated a knockin mouse line termed LSL-R26(Tva-lacZ) with concomitant conditional expression of TVA and lacZ by targeting the Rosa26 locus. A loxP-flanked transcriptional stop cassette was used for conditional activation of TVA and LacZ expression in a Cre-recombinase-dependent manner. To demonstrate the ability of this system for conditional somatic gene transfer in vivo, we directed TVA expression to the pancreas. Introduction of an RCAS vector with Bryan-RSV polymerase and subgroup A envelope [RCASBP(A)] carrying oncogenic Kras(G12D) induced focal ductal pancreatic lesions that recapitulate human pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias that progress to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas. TVA-mediated infection of genetically engineered mice with endogenous expression of Kras(G12D) in pancreatic progenitor cells by using RCASBP(A) virus carrying a short hairpin RNA directed against murine TP53, resulted in dramatically enhanced progression to invasive adenocarcinomas. These results show that conditional expression of TVA enables spatiotemporal gene expression and knockdown in a small subset of somatic cells in vivo. Therefore, it closely models carcinogenesis in humans where tumors evolve from somatic gene mutations in developmentally normal cells. Combined with the growing number of Cre expression models, RCAS-TVA-based gene expression and knockdown systems open up promising perspectives for analysis of gene function in a time-controlled and tissue-specific fashion in vitro and in vivo.

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