The CD11b promoter directs high-level expression of reporter genes in macrophages in transgenic mice.
CD11b is the alpha chain of the Mac-1 integrin and is preferentially expressed in myeloid cells (neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages). We have previously shown that the CD11b promoter directs cell-type-specific expression in myeloid lines using transient transfection assays. To confirm that these promoter sequences contain the proper regulatory elements for correct myeloid expression of CD11b in vivo, we have used the -1.7-kb human CD11b promoter to direct reporter gene expression in transgenic mice. Stable founder lines were generated with two different reporter genes, a Thy 1.1 surface marker and the Escherichia coli lacZ (beta-galactosidase) gene. Analysis of founders generated with each reporter demonstrated that the CD11b promoter was capable of driving high levels of transgene expression in murine macrophages for the lifetime of the animals. Similar to the endogenous gene, transgene expression was preferentially found in mature monocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils and not in myeloid precursors. These experiments indicate that the -1.7 CD11b promoter contains the regulatory elements sufficient for high-level macrophage expression. This promoter should be useful for targeting heterologous gene expression to mature myeloid cells.