A critical developmental role for tgfbr2 in myogenic cell lineages is revealed in mice expressing SM22-Cre, not SMMHC-Cre

Andrew D Frutkin, Haikun Shi, Goro Otsuka, Per Levéen, Stefan Karlsson, David A Dichek
Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 2006, 41 (4): 724-31
Smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific deletion of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling would help elucidate the mechanisms through which TGF-beta signaling contributes to vascular development and disease. We attempted to generate mice with SMC-specific deletion of TGF-beta signaling by mating mice with a conditional ("floxed") allele for the type II TGF-beta receptor (tgfbr2flox) to mice with SMC-targeted expression of Cre recombinase. We bred male mice transgenic for smooth muscle myosin heavy chain (SMMHC)-Cre with females carrying tgfbr2flox. Surprisingly, SMMHC-Cre mice recombined tgfbr2flox at low levels in SMC and at high levels in the testis. Recombination of tgfbr2flox in testis correlated with high-level expression of SMMHC-Cre in testis and germline transmission of tgfbr2null. In contrast, mice expressing Cre from a SM22alpha promoter (SM22-Cre) efficiently recombined tgfbr2flox in vascular and visceral SMC and the heart, but not in testis. Use of the R26R reporter allele confirmed that Cre-mediated recombination in vascular SMC was inefficient for SMMHC-Cre mice and highly efficient for SM22-Cre mice. Breedings that introduced the SM22-Cre allele into tgfbr2flox/flox zygotes in order to generate adult mice that are hemizygous for SM22-Cre and homozygous for tgfbr2flox- and would have conversion of tgfbr2flox/flox to tgfbr2null/null in SMC-produced no live SM22-Cre : tgfbr2flox/flox pups (P<0.001). We conclude: (1) "SMC-targeted" Cre lines vary significantly in specificity and efficiency of Cre expression; (2) TGF-beta signaling in the subset of cells that express SM22alpha is required for normal development; (3) generation of adult mice with absent TGF-beta signaling in SMC remains a challenge.

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