Mast Cells Revisited

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Science  06 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6064, pp. 14
DOI: 10.1126/science.335.6064.14-c

Although the role of mast cells in allergic disease is well established, they have also been implicated in responses to bacterial infections, autoimmunity, and cancer. Nearly all of these studies relied on the use of mice containing mutations in the receptor tyrosine kinase Kit, which is important for mast cell development. Although these mice lacked mast cells, Kit is also expressed in other cell lineages and Kit mutant mice suffered from anemia, neutropenia, and impaired lymphocyte development, among other defects. Feyerabend et al. now describe mice (called Cre-Master) with a selective deficiency in mast cells that were generated by the targeted insertion of Cre recombinase into the mast cell carboxypeptidase A3 locus. The insertion of Cre caused deletion of mast cells by genotoxic stress. Cre-Master mice were devoid of mast cells and, as expected, were unable to mount IgE-mediated anaphylactic responses. In contrast to Kit mutant mice, Cre-Master mice were susceptible to antibody-induced autoimmune arthritis. Thus, the function of mast cells, one of the more enigmatic cells of the immune system, may need to be reevaluated.

Immunity 35, 832 (2011).

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