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Dev Biol. 2003 Jul 1;259(1):176-87.

The human tissue plasminogen activator-Cre mouse: a new tool for targeting specifically neural crest cells and their derivatives in vivo.

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UMR 144 Compartimentation et Dynamique Cellulaire Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Institut Curie, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75248 Paris Cedex 05, France.


The ontogeny of neural crest cells (NCC) involves a number of orchestrated variety of derivatives, including components of the peripheral nervous system and melanocytes. Thus, it represents an excellent model system to investigate mechanisms controlling epithelial-mesenchymal transitions, cell migration and differentiation, as well as cell proliferation and death. We have established a new transgenic line expressing the Cre recombinase under the control of the human tissue plasminogen activator promoter (Ht-PA). The activity of the reporter in the Ht-PA-Cre/R26R embryos is observed as early as Theiler stage 12 in the cephalic mesenchyme. Later, the targeted cells include all the known derivatives of cranial, vagal, and trunk NCC, including craniofacial structures and cranial ganglia, cardiac and endocrine derivatives, melanocytes, peripheral, and enteric nervous system. At the vagal level, the location of presumptive enteric NCC differs from their avian counterparts in their ability to invade the mesenchyme lateral to the neural tube. In contrast to the Wnt1-Cre line, the Ht-PA-Cre line does not target the central nervous system and therefore renders it more specific for NCC. Our Ht-PA-Cre mice represent a novel model to specifically target conditional mutations in migratory NCC.

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