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Open Access Review

How to build an inducible cartilage-specific transgenic mouse

Esmeralda N Blaney Davidson*, Fons AJ van de Loo, Wim B van den Berg and Peter M van der Kraan

Author Affiliations

Department of Experimental Rheumatology, Radboud University Medical Center, 272 Geert Grooteplein 26-28, 6500 HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:210  doi:10.1186/ar4573

Published: 2 June 2014

Abstract

Transgenic mice are used to study the roles of specific proteins in an intact living system. Use of transgenic mice to study processes in cartilage, however, poses some challenges. First of all, many factors involved in cartilage homeostasis and disease are also crucial factors in embryogenesis. Therefore, meddling with these factors often leads to death before birth, and mice who do survive cannot be considered normal. The build-up of cartilage in these mice is altered, making it nearly impossible to truly interpret the role of a protein in adult cartilage function. An elegant way to overcome these limitations is to make transgenic mice time- and tissue-specific, thereby omitting side-effects in tissues other than cartilage and during embryology. This review discusses the potential building blocks for making an inducible cartilage-specific transgenic mouse. We review which promoters can be used to gain chondrocyte-specificity - all chondrocytes or a specific subset thereof - as well as different systems that can be used to enable inducibility of a transgene.