Keratin 5-Cre-driven excision of nonmuscle myosin IIA in early embryo trophectoderm leads to placenta defects and embryonic lethality

James Crish, Mary Anne Conti, Takao Sakai, Robert S. Adelstein, Thomas T. Egelhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In studies initially focused on roles of nonmuscle myosin IIA (NMIIA) in the developing mouse epidermis, we have discovered that a previously described cytokeratin 5 (K5)-Cre gene construct is expressed in early embryo development. Mice carrying floxed alleles of the nonmuscle myosin II heavy chain gene (NMHC IIAflox/flox) were crossed with the K5-Cre line. The progeny of newborn pups did not show a Mendelian genotype distribution, suggesting embryonic lethality. Analysis of post-implantation conceptuses from embryonic day (E)9.5 to E13.5 revealed poorly developed embryos and defective placentas, with significantly reduced labyrinth surface area and blood vessel vascularization. These results suggested the novel possibility that the bovine K5 promoter-driven Cre-recombinase was active early in trophoblast-lineage cells that give rise to the placenta. To test this possibility, K5-Cre transgenic mice were crossed with the mT/mG reporter mouse in which activation of GFP expression indicates Cre transgene expression. We observed activation of K5-Cre-driven GFP expression in the ectoplacental cone, in the extraembryonic ectoderm, and in trophoblast giant cells in the E6.5 embryo. In addition, we observed GFP expression at E11.5 to E13.5 in both the labyrinth of the placenta and the yolk sac. NMIIA expression was detected in these same cell types in normal embryos, as well as in E13.5 yolk sac and labyrinth. These findings taken together suggest that NMHC IIA may play critical roles in the early trophoblast-derived ectoplacental cone and extraembryonic ectoderm, as well as in the yolk sac and labyrinth tissues that form later. Our findings are consistent with phenotypes of constitutive NMIIA knockout mice made earlier, that displayed labyrinth and yolk sac-specific defects, but our findings extend those observations by suggesting possible NMIIA roles in trophoblast lineages as well. These results furthermore demonstrate that K5-Cre gene constructs, previously reported to be activated starting at approximately E12.5 in the forming epidermis, may be widely useful as drivers for activation of cre/lox based gene excision in early embryo extraembronic trophoblast tissues as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-148
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-10-2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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