Genetic ablation: targeted expression of a toxin gene causes microphthalmia in transgenic mice

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Science  11 Dec 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4833, pp. 1563-1565
DOI: 10.1126/science.3685993


Lineage-specific regulatory elements can be used to direct expression of a variety of genes to specific tissues in transgenic mice. If the hybrid constructs contain a gene encoding a cytotoxic gene product, then genetic ablation of a specific cell lineage can be achieved. We have generated six transgenic mice by introducing into fertilized eggs the mouse gamma 2-crystallin promoter fused to the coding region of the diphtheria toxin A-chain gene. Three of these mice and all the transgenic offspring analyzed were microphthalmic. The lenses of these mice displayed considerable heterogeneity: some were almost normal morphologically but reduced in size, whereas others were grossly aberrant and deficient in nuclear fiber cells. These studies indicate that programmed ablation of specific cell types can be stably transmitted through the germ line.