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J Immunol. 2009 May 1;182(9):5461-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0802327.

Conditional gene targeting in mouse high endothelial venules.

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Laboratory of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, Shizuoka, Japan.


High endothelial venules (HEVs) are specialized blood vessels of secondary lymphoid organs composed of endothelial cells with a characteristic cuboidal morphology. Lymphocytes selectively adhere to and migrate across HEVs to initiate immune responses. In this study, we established a novel transgenic mouse line expressing Cre recombinase under the transcriptional control of the gene encoding HEV-expressed sulfotransferase, N-acetylglucosamine-6-O-sulfotransferase 2 (GlcNAc6ST-2), using bacterial artificial chromosome recombineering. Crossing these transgenic mice with the ROSA26 reporter strain, which expresses lacZ following Cre-mediated recombination, and staining the resulting progeny with 5-bromo-4-chloro-5-indolyl-beta-D-galactoside indicated that Cre recombinase was specifically expressed in mAb MECA79-reactive HEVs in secondary lymphoid organs but not in any other blood vessels of the transgenic mice. The expression of Cre recombinase correlated with a developmental switch, from immature, mAb MECA367-reactive HEVs to mature, mAb MECA79-reactive HEVs in neonatal lymph nodes. In addition to the HEVs, Cre recombinase was also strongly expressed in the colonic villi, which recapitulated the intrinsic expression of GlcNAc6ST-2 as confirmed in GlcNAc6ST-2(GFP/GFP) knock-in mice and by RT-PCR. Furthermore, treatment with an antimicrobial agent revealed that the colonic expression of Cre recombinase in the transgenic mice was regulated by commensal bacteria in the colon. In addition, Cre recombinase was expressed in a small subset of cells in the brain, testis, stomach, small intestine, and lung. In view of the restricted expression of Cre recombinase, this transgenic mouse line should be useful for elucidating tissue-specific gene functions using the Cre/loxP system.

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