Cartilage-Specific CreCre Recombinase TransgenesTransgenes/Alleles in the Mouse
Kanakis I., Alhashmi M., Liu K., Keenan C., Ramos Mucci L., Poulet B., Bou-Gharios G.
Cartilage is a specialized skeletal tissue with a unique extracellular matrix elaborated by its resident cells, chondrocytes. The tissue presents in several forms, including growth plate and articular cartilage, wherein chondrocytes follow a differential differentiation program and have different fates. The induction of gene modifications in cartilage specifically relies on mouse transgenes and knockin alleles taking advantages of transcriptional elements primarily active in chondrocytes at a specific differentiation stage or in a specific cartilage type. These transgenes/alleles have been widely used to study the roles of specific genes in cartilage development, adult homeostasis, and pathology. As cartilage formation is critical for postnatal life, the inactivation or significant alteration of key cartilaginous genes is often neonatally lethal and therefore hampers postnatal studies. Gold standard approaches to induce postnatal chondrocyte-specific gene modifications include the Cre-loxP and Tet-ON/OFF systems. Selecting the appropriate promoter/enhancer sequences to drive Cre expression is of crucial importance and determines the specificity of conditional gain- or loss-of-function models. In this chapter, we discuss a series of transgenes and knockin alleles that have been developed for gene manipulation in cartilage and we compare their expression patterns and efficiencies.