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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Jun 15;422(4):639-42. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2012.05.041. Epub 2012 May 16.

Smooth muscle protein 22 alpha-Cre is expressed in myeloid cells in mice.

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Key Laboratory of Nutrition and Metabolism, Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Clinical Research Center of Institute for Nutritional Sciences, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.



Experiments using Cre recombinase to study smooth muscle specific functions rely on strict specificity of Cre transgene expression. Therefore, accurate determination of Cre activity is critical to the interpretation of experiments using smooth muscle specific Cre.


Two lines of smooth muscle protein 22 α-Cre (SM22α-Cre) mice were bred to floxed mice in order to define Cre transgene expression. Southern blotting demonstrated that SM22α-Cre was expressed not only in tissues abundant of smooth muscle, but also in spleen, which consists largely of immune cells including myeloid and lymphoid cells. PCR detected SM22α-Cre expression in peripheral blood and peritoneal macrophages. Analysis of SM22α-Cre mice crossed with a recombination detector GFP mouse revealed GFP expression, and hence recombination, in circulating neutrophils and monocytes by flow cytometry.


SM22α-Cre mediates recombination not only in smooth muscle cells, but also in myeloid cells including neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages. Given the known contributions of myeloid cells to cardiovascular phenotypes, caution should be taken when interpreting data using SM22α-Cre mice to investigate smooth muscle specific functions. Strategies such as bone marrow transplantation may be necessary when SM22α-Cre is used to differentiate the contribution of smooth muscle cells versus myeloid cells to observed phenotypes.

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