Cre/LoxP recombination is the gold standard for conditional gene regulation in mice in vivo. However, promoters driving the expression of Cre recombinase are often active in a wide range of cell types and therefore unsuited to target more specific subsets of cells. To overcome this limitation, we designed inactive "split-Cre" fragments that regain Cre activity when overlapping co-expression is controlled by two different promoters. Using transgenic mice and virus-mediated expression of split-Cre, we show that efficient reporter gene activation is achieved in vivo. In the brain of transgenic mice, we genetically defined a subgroup of glial progenitor cells in which the Plp1- and the Gfap-promoter are simultaneously active, giving rise to both astrocytes and NG2-positive glia. Similarly, a subset of interneurons was labelled after viral transfection using Gad67- and Cck1 promoters to express split-Cre. Thus, split-Cre mediated genomic recombination constitutes a powerful spatial and temporal coincidence detector for in vivo targeting.
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