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Voehringer, David; Wu, Davina; Liang, Hong-Erh; Locksley, Richard M.: Efficient generation of long-distance conditional alleles using recombineering and a dual selection strategy in replicate plates. In: BMC Biotechnology 2009, 9:69
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Abstract

Background: Conditional knockout mice are a useful tool to study the function of gene products in a tissue-specific or inducible manner. Classical approaches to generate targeting vectors for conditional alleles are often limited by the availability of suitable restriction sites. Furthermore, plasmid-based targeting vectors can only cover a few kB of DNA which precludes the generation of targeting vectors where the two loxP sites are placed far apart. These limitations have been overcome in the recent past by using homologous recombination of bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) in Escherichia coli to produce large targeting vector containing two different loxP-flanked selection cassettes so that a single targeting event is sufficient to introduce loxP-sites a great distances into the mouse genome. However, the final targeted allele should be free of selection cassettes and screening for correct removal of selection cassettes can be a laborious task. Therefore, we developed a new strategy to rapidly identify ES cells containing the desired allele. Results: Using BAC recombineering we generated a single targeting vector which contained two different selection cassettes that were flanked by loxP-loxP sites or by FRT-FRT/loxP sites so that they could be deleted sequentially by Cre-and FLPe-recombinases, respectively. Transfected ES cells were first selected in the presence of both antibiotics in vitro before correctly targeted clones were identified by Southern blot. After transfection of a Cre recombinase expression plasmid ES cell clones were selected on replicate plates to identify those clones which maintained the FRT-FRT/loxP flanked cassette and lost the loxP-loxP flanked cassette. Using this strategy facilitated the identification of ES cell clones containing the desired allele before blastocyst injection. Conclusion: The strategy of ES cell cultures in replicate plates proved to be very efficient in identifying ES cells that had undergone the correct recombination event. This approach facilitates the generation of conditional knock-out mice when large parts of the genome are intended to be flanked by loxP sites.