Hox Genes pp 37-48 | Cite as

Genetic Lineage Tracing Analysis of Anterior Hox Expressing Cells

  • Brigitte Laforest
  • Nicolas Bertrand
  • Stéphane ZaffranEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1196)


Cell lineage studies have been widely used in developmental biology to establish which cells, and how many cells, in the early embryo will give rise to a specific structure and its derivatives. Several methods have been developed to label progenitor cells in the early embryo. Here, we describe the genetic tracing approach that relies on the use of the recombinase to genetically and permanently label progenitor cells as well as their progeny through specific activation of a conditional reporter gene, the ROSA26 reporter mouse. Labeling of progenitor cells is spatially controlled by the use of a tissue-specific promoter driving Cre, the Hoxb1 IRES-Cre/+ and the Hoxa1-enhIII-cre. ROSA26R mice and Hoxb1 IRES-Cre/+ or Hoxa1-enhIII-cremice are crossed together to generate embryos at different stages of development. Embryos are collected and dissected at a specific stage of development and fixed in paraformaldehyde. To follow Hoxb1 + and Hoxa1 + progeny, X-gal staining is performed to detect β-galactosidase activity in embryos or developing organ such as the heart. Finally, X-gal-positive cells are observed on whole-mount embryos or dissected organ to determine the lineage contribution of Hoxa1 and Hoxb1 during development.

Key words

Genetic lineage tracing Knock-in Transgene Cre recombinase Hoxa1 Hoxb1 Rosa26 reporter 



The authors would like to thank Pr. Mario Capecchi and Pr. Tom Lufkin for the Hoxb1 IRES-Cre and Hoxa1-enhIII-Cre lines respectively. This work was supported by the “Association Française contre les Myopathies” (NMH-Decrypt Project). Brigitte Laforest received postdoctoral fellowship from the “Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brigitte Laforest
    • 1
  • Nicolas Bertrand
    • 1
  • Stéphane Zaffran
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Inserm, GMGF UMR_S910Aix-Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Inserm, GMGF UMR_S910Aix Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance

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