Precise pattern of recombination in serotonergic and hypothalamic neurons in a Pdx1-cre transgenic mouse line

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Background: Multicellular organisms are characterized by a remarkable diversity of morphologically distinct and functionally specialized cell types. Transgenic techniques for the manipulation of gene expression in specific cellular populations are highly useful for elucidating the development and function of these cellular populations. Given notable similarities in developmental gene expression between pancreatic beta cells and serotonergic neurons, we examined the pattern of Cre-mediated recombination in the nervous system of a widely used mouse line, Pdx1-cre (formal designation, Tg(Ipf1-cre)89.1Dam), in which the expression of Cre recombinase is driven by regulatory elements upstream of the pdx1 (pancreatic-duodenal homeobox 1) gene. Methods: Single (hemizygous) transgenic mice of the pdx1-cre(Cre/0) genotype were bred to single (hemizygous) transgenic reporter mice (Z/EG and rosa26R lines). Recombination pattern was examined in offspring using whole-mount and sectioned histological preparations at e9.5, e10.5, e11.5, e16.5 and adult developmental stages. Results: In addition to the previously reported pancreatic recombination, recombination in the developing nervous system and inner ear formation was observed. In the central nervous system, we observed a highly specific pattern of recombination in neuronal progenitors in the ventral brainstem and diencephalon. In the rostral brainstem (r1-r2), recombination occurred in newborn serotonergic neurons. In the caudal brainstem, recombination occurred in non-serotonergic cells. In the adult, this resulted in reporter expression in the vast majority of forebrain-projecting serotonergic neurons (located in the dorsal and median raphe nuclei) but in none of the spinal cord-projecting serotonergic neurons of the caudal raphe nuclei. In the adult caudal brainstem, reporter expression was widespread in the inferior olive nucleus. In the adult hypothalamus, recombination was observed in the arcuate nucleus and dorsomedial hypothalamus. Recombination was not observed in any other region of the central nervous system. Neuronal expression of endogenous pdx1 was not observed. Conclusions: The Pdx1-cre mouse line, and the regulatory elements contained in the corresponding transgene, could be a valuable tool for targeted genetic manipulation of developing forebrain-projecting serotonergic neurons and several other unique neuronal sub-populations. These results suggest that investigators employing this mouse line for studies of pancreatic function should consider the possible contributions of central nervous system effects towards resulting phenotypes.





Honig,Gerard;Liou,Angela;Berger,Miles;German,Michael S.;Tecott,Laurence H.. 2010. Precise pattern of recombination in serotonergic and hypothalamic neurons in a Pdx1-cre transgenic mouse line. Journal of Biomedical Science 17( ): 82-82.

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Miles Berger

Associate Professor of Anesthesiology

My research team focuses on 3 areas:

1) We are interested in the mechanisms of postoperative neurocognitive disorders such as delirium, and the relationship between these disorders and Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). Towards these ends, we use a combination of methods including pre and postoperative CSF and blood sampling, functional neuroimaging, EEG recordings, rigorous biochemical assays, and cognitive testing and delirium screening. In the long run, this work has the potential to help us improve long term neurocognitive outcomes for the more than 20 million Americans over age 60 who undergo anesthesia and surgery each year.

2) We are interested in the idea that altered anesthetic-induced brain EEG waveforms can serve as indicators of specific types of preclinical/prodromal neurodegenerative disease pathology, specific cognitive domain deficits, and postoperative delirium risk. We are studying this topic in the ALADDIN study, a 250 patient prospective cohort study in older surgical patients at Duke. Many people have viewed anesthesia and surgery as a "stress test" for the aging brain; we hope that this work will help us learn how to develop a real-time EEG readout of this "perioperative stress test" for the aging brain, just as ECG analysis can provide a real-time readout of cardiac treadmill stress tests. 

3) We are interested in how the APOE4 allele damages brain circuitry throughout the adult lifespan, and how this contributes to increased risk of late onset Alzheimer's disease as well as worse outcomes following other acute brain disorders such as stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI). In particular, we are investigating the hypothesis that the APOE4 allele leads to increased CNS complement activation throughout adult life, which then contributes to increased synaptic phagocytosis and long term neurocognitive decline. We are also studying whether acutely modulating APOE signaling in older surgical patients with the APOE mimetic peptide CN-105 is sufficient to block postoperative CSF neuroinflammation and complement activation. 

Our work is transdisciplinary, and thus our team includes individuals with diverse scientific and clinical backgrounds, ranging from neuropsychology and neuroimaging to proteomics, flow cytometry and behavioral neuroscience in animal models. What unites us is the desire to better understand mechanisms of age-dependent brain dysfunction, both in the perioperative setting and in APOE4 carriers. 

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