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Abstract

Summary: Cre-mediated site-specific recombination allows conditional transgene expression or gene knockouts in mice. Inducible Cre recombination systems have been developed to bypass initial embryonic lethal phenotypes and provide access to later embryonic or adult phenotypes. We have produced Cre transgenic mice in which excision is tamoxifen inducible and occurs in a widespread mosaic pattern. We utilized our Cre excision reporter system combined with an embryonic stem (ES) cell screen to identify ES cell clones with undetectable background Cre activity in the absence of tamoxifen but efficient excision upon addition of tamoxifen. The CreER™ transgenic mouse lines derived from the ES cells were tested using the Z/AP and Z/EG Cre reporter lines. Reporter gene expression indicated Cre excision was maximal in midgestation embryos by 2 days after tamoxifen administration, with an overall efficiency of 5–10% of cells with Cre excision. At 3 days after tamoxifen treatment most reporter gene expression marked groups of cells, suggesting an expansion of cells with Cre excision, and the proportion of cells with Cre excision was maintained. In adults, Cre excision was also observed with varying efficiencies in all tissues after tamoxifen treatment. genesis 32:8–18, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.