In a lentivirus-based gene delivery system, the incorporated gene is continuously expressed for a long time. In this study, we devised a simple way to knock down a specific gene in a kidney cell-specific pattern in adult mice by lentivirus-assisted transfer of short hairpin RNA (shRNA). Kidney collecting duct (CD)-specific aquaporin-3 (AQP3)-knockdown mice were generated by consecutive injection of Hoxb7-Cre-expressing lentivirus (LV-Hoxb7 Cre) and loxP-AQP3 shRNA-expressing lentivirus (LV-loxP shAQP3) in adult C57BL6/J mice. LV-Hoxb7 Cre was designed to express mCherry, while LV-loxP shAQP3 was designed with a floxed enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-tagged stop sequence, and thus EGFP would be expressed only in the absence of Cre recombination. In mice treated with LV-Hoxb7 Cre alone, mCherry protein expression, which indicates the presence of Cre recombinase, occurred only in CD cells. However, LV-loxP shAQP3 injection alone resulted in an increase in EGFP expression in all kidney cells, indicating the transcription of the floxed region. When LV-Hoxb7 Cre and LV-loxP shAQP3 were sequentially transduced, EGFP expression was attenuated while mCherry expression was sustained in CD cells, demonstrating a CD cell-specific recombination of the floxed region. AQP3 expression in mice injected with LV-Hoxb7 Cre or LV-loxP shAQP3 alone did not differ, but consecutive injection of LV-Hoxb7 Cre and LV-loxP shAQP3 significantly reduced AQP3 expression in CD cells. However, the expression levels of AQP3 were not altered in other cell types. Double transduction of Cre- and loxP-based lentivirus can easily generate kidney cell-specific knockdown mice, and this method might be applicable to other species.
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