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Brain Res. 2008 Dec 3;1243:78-85. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.09.046. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Distribution of cells expressing human renin-promoter activity in the brain of a transgenic mouse.

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Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, 3010, Australia.


Renin plays a critical role in fluid and electrolyte homeostasis by cleaving angiotensinogen to produce Ang peptides. Whilst it has been demonstrated that renin mRNA is expressed in the brain, the distribution of cells responsible for this expression remains uncertain. We have used a transgenic mouse approach in an attempt to address this question. A transgenic mouse, in which a 12.2 kb fragment of the human renin promoter was used to drive expression of Cre-recombinase, was crossed with the ROSA26-lac Z reporter mouse strain. Cre-recombinase mediated excision of the floxed stop cassette resulted in expression of the reporter protein, beta-galactosidase. This study describes the distribution of beta-galactosidase in the brain of the crossed transgenic mouse. In all cases where it was examined the reporter protein was co-localized with the neuronal marker NeuN. An extensive distribution was observed with numerous cells labeled in the somatosensory, insular, piriform and retrosplenial cortices. The motor cortex was devoid of labeled cells. Several other regions were labeled including the parts of the amygdala, periaqueductal gray, lateral parabrachial nucleus and deep cerebellar nuclei. Overall the distribution shows little overlap with those regions that are known to express receptors for the renin-angiotensin system in the adult brain. This transgenic approach, which demonstrates the distribution of cells which have activated the human renin promoter at any time throughout development, yields a unique and extensive distribution of putative renin-expressing neurons. Our observations suggest that renin may have broader actions in the brain and may indicate a potential for interaction with the (pro)renin receptor or production of a ligand for non-AT(1)/AT(2) receptors.

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