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J Cell Biochem. 1995 Dec;59(4):463-72.

Conditional gene expression in secretory tissues and skin of transgenic mice using the MMTV-LTR and the tetracycline responsive system.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry and Metabolism, National Institute of Diabetes, USA.


Molecular mechanisms of development and disease can be studied in transgenic animals. Controlling the spatial and temporal expression patterns of transgenes, however, is a prerequisite for the elucidation of gene function in the whole organism. Previously we reported that mice carrying a tetR/VP16 hybrid gene (tTA), under the control of the human cytomegalovirus immediate early 1 (HCMV-IE1) gene promoter, can be used to temporally activate the expression of transgenes under the control of a promoter containing tetop sequences. We now show that the MMTV-LTR can be used to target expression of tTA to the epithelial cells of secretory organs and skin in transgenic mice. Notably, nearly uniform expression of a tetop-lacZ transgene was found in seminal vesicle, salivary gland, and Leydig cells of mice carrying also the MMTV-tTA transgene. More heterogeneous patterns of gene expression were observed in mammary epithelial cells and basal cells of the epidermis. Different MMTV-tTA lines had comparable tissue expression patterns. Transcriptional activation mediated by tTA was up to several hundredfold, and it was abrogated after the administration of tetracycline. The MMTV-tTA mice established in this work will be useful for experiments examining the roles of biological factors at defined developmental stages in the epithelial cells of salivary gland, seminal vesicle, mammary gland, and skin and the Leydig cells of testes. In addition, in combination with the CRE/lox recombination system, these mice wil be useful to achieve gene deletions at defined time points in these organs.

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