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Conditional brain-specific knockdown of MAPK using Cre/loxP regulated RNA interference

Hitz, Christiane, Wurst, Wolfgang, Kühn, Ralf
Nucleic acids research 2007 v.35 no.12 pp. e90
RNA, RNA interference, adults, brain, genes, homologous recombination, loci, mice, mitogen-activated protein kinase, mutagenesis, signal transduction
In the last years, RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene knockdown has developed into a routine method to assess gene function in cultured mammalian cells in a fast and easy manner. For the use of this technique in developing or adult mice, short hairpin (sh)RNA vectors expressed stably from the genome are a faster alternative to conventional knockout approaches. Here we describe an advanced strategy for conditional gene knockdown in mice, where we used the Cre/loxP system to activate RNAi in a time and tissue dependent manner in the adult mouse brain. By placing conditional RNAi constructs into the defined genomic Rosa26 locus and by using recombinase mediated cassette exchange (RMCE) instead of laborious homologous recombination, we developed a fast, easy and reproducible approach to assess gene function in adult mice. We applied this technique to three genes of the MAPK signaling pathway--Braf, Mek1 and Mek2--and demonstrate here the potential of this new tool in mouse mutagenesis.