A cell type-specific allele of the POU gene Oct-6 reveals Schwann cell autonomous function in nerve development and regeneration.
While an important role for the POU domain transcription factor Oct-6 in the developing peripheral nerve has been well established, studies into its exact role in nerve development and regeneration have been hampered by the high mortality rate of newborn Oct-6 mutant animals. In this study we have generated a Schwann cell-specific Oct-6 allele through deletion of the Schwann cell-specific enhancer element (SCE) in the Oct-6 locus. Analysis of mice homozygous for this allele (deltaSCE allele) reveals that rate-limiting levels of Oct-6 in Schwann cells are dependent on the SCE and that this element does not contribute to Oct-6 regulation in other cell types. We demonstrate a Schwann cell autonomous function for Oct-6 during nerve development as well as in regenerating nerve. Additionally, we show that Krox-20, an important regulatory target of Oct-6 in Schwann cells, is activated, with delayed kinetics, through an Oct-6-independent mechanism in these mice.