• Osteoblast;
  • Bone;
  • α1(I)-collagen;
  • osteocalcin;
  • Cre recombinase


Cell- and time-specific gene inactivation should enhance our knowledge of bone biology. Implementation of this technique requires construction of transgenic mouse lines expressing Cre recombinase in osteoblasts, the bone forming cell. We tested several promoter fragments for their ability to drive efficient Cre expression in osteoblasts. In the first mouse transgenic line, the Cre gene was placed under the control of the 2.3-kb proximal fragment of the α1(I)-collagen promoter, which is expressed at high levels in osteoblasts throughout their differentiation. Transgenic mice expressing this transgene in bone were bred with the ROSA26 reporter (R26R) strain in which the ROSA26 locus is targeted with a conditional LacZ reporter cassette. In R26R mice, Cre expression and subsequent Cre-mediated recombination lead to expression of the LacZ reporter gene, an event that can be monitored by LacZ staining. LacZ staining was detected in virtually all osteoblasts of α1(I)-Cre;R26R mice indicating that homologous recombination occurred in these cells. No other cell type stained blue. In the second line studied, the 1.3-kb fragment of osteocalcin gene 2 (OG2) promoter, which is active in differentiated osteoblasts, was used to drive Cre expression. OG2-Cre mice expressed Cre specifically in bone. However, cross of OG2-Cre mice with R26R mice did not lead to any detectable LacZ staining in osteoblasts. Lastly, we tested a more active artificial promoter derived from the OG2 promoter. The artificial OG2-Cre transgene was expressed by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in cartilage and bone samples. After cross of the artificial OG2-Cre mice with R26R mice, we detected a LacZ staining in articular chondrocytes but not in osteoblasts. Our data suggest that the only promoter able to drive Cre expression at a level sufficient to induce recombination in osteoblasts is the α1(I)-collagen promoter. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.