Cre-loxP recombination allows scientists to excise, insert, or invert specific DNA segments with unprecedented accuracy.1,2  This works through two key components: a Cre recombinase and loxP sequence recognition sites. The Cre enzyme identifies pairs of loxP sites (arrowheads), which flank (flox) the DNA, and catalyzes reciprocal DNA recombination between the two sites to excise a small piece of DNA.

     Infographic showing the breeding schematic to generate Cre-loxP tissue-specific knockout mice.
modified from ©, Gaspar Gomes Costa; © ISTOCK.COM, seamartini; designed by erin lemieux

To generate a tissue specific knockout mouse, researchers breed a mouse bearing a Cre transgene under a tissue- or cell-type specific or inducible promoter (A) with a homozygous floxed mouse (B).

The offspring are heterozygous for the floxed target gene (C) and breed with the homozygous floxed mouse (B).

The resulting experimental mouse is hemizygous for Cre and homozygous for loxP (D). This is the necessary genotype required to conditionally knock out the target gene in the specific tissue.

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