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Genesis. 2012 Dec;50(12):908-13. doi: 10.1002/dvg.22052. Epub 2012 Sep 12.

Generation of CD4CreER(T²) transgenic mice to study development of peripheral CD4-T-cells.

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Division of Rheumatology and Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


After thymic emigration CD4-T-cells continue to differentiate into multiple effector and suppressor sublineages in peripheral lymphoid organs. In vivo analysis of peripheral CD4-T-cell differentiation has relied on animal models with targeted gene mutations. These are expressed either constitutively or conditionally after Cre mediated recombination. Available Cre transgenic strains to specifically target T-cells act at stages of thymocyte development that precede thymic selection. Tracing gene functions in CD4-T-cell development after thymic exit becomes complicated when the targeted gene is essential during thymic development. Other approaches to conditionally modify gene functions in peripheral T-cells involve infection of in vitro activated cells with Cre expressing lenti-, retro-, or adenoviruses, which precludes in vivo analyses. To study molecular mechanisms of peripheral CD4-T-cell differentiation in vivo and in vitro we generated transgenic mice expressing a tamoxifen inducible Cre recombinase (CreER(T2) ) under the control of the CD4 gene promoter. We show here that in CD4CreER(T2) mice Cre is inducibly and selectively activated in CD4-T-cells. Tamoxifen treatment both in vivo and in vitro results in efficient recombination of loci marked by LoxP sites. Moreover, this strain shows no abnormalities related to transgene insertion. Therefore it provides a valuable tool for studying gene function during differentiation of naïve peripheral CD4-T-cells into effector or suppressor sub-lineages.

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