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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Aug 2019 - 16 Aug 2019

Animal Studies

2019 Jul/Aug




Tmem119-EGFP and Tmem119-CreERT2 transgenic mice for labeling and manipulating microglia.


Microglia are specialized brain-resident macrophages with important functions in health and disease. To improve our understanding of these cells, the research community needs genetic tools to identify and control them in a manner that distinguishes them from closely related cell-types. We have targeted the recently discovered microglia-specific gene to generate knock-in mice expressing EGFP (JAX#031823) or CreERT2 (JAX#031820) for the identification and manipulation of microglia, respectively. Genetic characterization of the locus and qPCR-based analysis demonstrate correct positioning of the transgenes and intact expression of endogenous in the knock-in mouse models. Immunofluorescence analysis further shows that parenchymal microglia, but not other brain macrophages, are completely and faithfully labeled in the EGFP-line at different time points of development. Flow cytometry indicates highly selective expression of EGFP in CD11bCD45lo microglia. Similarly, immunofluorescence and flow cytometry analyses using a Cre-dependent reporter mouse line demonstrate activity of CreERT2 primarily in microglia upon tamoxifen administration with the caveat of activity in leptomeningeal cells. Finally, flow cytometric analyses reveal absence of EGFP expression and minimal activity of CreERT2 in blood monocytes of the and lines, respectively. These new transgenic lines extend the microglia toolbox by providing the currently most specific genetic labeling and control over these cells in the myeloid compartment of mice. Tools that specifically label and manipulate only microglia are currently unavailable, but are critically needed to further our understanding of this cell type. Complementing and significantly extending recently introduced microglia-specific immunostaining methods that have quickly become a new standard in the field, we generated two mouse lines that label and control gene expression in microglia with high specificity and made them publicly available. Using these readily accessible mice, the research community will be able to study microglia biology with improved specificity.