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Mol Cell. 2001 Jul;8(1):233-43.

Self-excising retroviral vectors encoding the Cre recombinase overcome Cre-mediated cellular toxicity.

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The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The Cre-lox system is often used to manipulate sequences in mammalian genomes. We have observed that continuous expression of the Cre recombinase in cultured cells lacking exogenous lox sites caused decreased growth, cytopathic effects, and chromosomal aberrations. Cre mutants defective in DNA cleavage were not geno- or cytotoxic. A self-excising retroviral vector that incorporates a negative feedback loop to limit the duration and intensity of Cre expression avoided measurable toxicity, retained the ability to excise a target sequence flanked by lox sites, and may provide the basis of a less toxic strategy for the use of Cre or similar recombinases.

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