Targeting the annulus fibrosus of the intervertebral disc: Col1a2-Cre(ER)T mice show specific activity of Cre recombinase in the outer annulus fibrosus
Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling
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© 2016, The International CCN Society. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is a major underlying contributor to back pain—the single leading cause of disability worldwide. However, we possess a limited understanding of the etiology underlying IVD degeneration. To date, there are a limited number of mouse models that have been used to target proteins in specific compartments of the IVD to explore their functions in disc development, homeostasis and disease. Furthermore, the majority of reports exploring the composition and function of the outer encapsulating annulus fibrosus (AF) of the IVD have considered it as one tissue, without considering the numerous structural and functional differences existing between the inner and outer AF. In addition, no mouse models have yet been reported that enable specific targeting of genes within the outer AF. In the current report, we discuss these issues and demonstrate the localized activity of Cre recombinase in the IVD of Col1a2-Cre(ER)T;ROSA26mTmG mice possessing a tamoxifen-dependent Cre recombinase driven by a Cola2 promoter and distal enhancer and the mTmG fluorescent reporter. Following tamoxifen injection of 3-week-old Col1a2-Cre(ER)T;ROSA26mTmG mice, we show Cre activity specifically in the outer AF of the IVD, as indicated by expression of the GFP reporter. Thus, Col1a2-Cre(ER)T;ROSA26mTmG mice may prove to be a valuable tool in delineating the function of proteins in this unique compartment of the IVD, and in further exploring the compositional differences between the inner and outer AF in disc homeostasis, aging and disease.