Visualisation of osteoprogenitor cells in a Prx1 murine fracture model
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Understanding the recruitment of multipotent skeletal progenitor cells and the factors that influence their differentiation would be helpful in providing a means for harnessing the regenerative capacity of skeletal progenitor cells in bone tissue engineering. In order to track the recruitment of skeletal stem cells in fracture healing, transgenic mice containing a Tamoxifen-inducible Cre recombinase that had been placed under the control of a 2.4 kb Prx1 promotor were used to induce conditional expression in periosteal skeletal stem cells that express the Prx1 gene. In order to initially see the cells expressing Prx1, a green fluorescent protein gene (GFP) had also been put downstream to the Prx1 promotor. We then crossed these Prx1CreER-GFP transgenic mice with a second strain containing the Beta-galactosidase gene that becomes constitutively expressed after recombination by the Cre recombinase. The enzymatic activity of Beta-galactosidase was then used to generate a colormetric staining reaction that was used to visualize the cells in which recombination had occurred based on a blue staining product. The recombination activity should only be present in Prx1 expressing cells and their progeny. The goal of the present study was to assess several different approaches to optimize the Beta-galactosidase enzymatic staining protocol and to visualize the Prx1-expressing cells during fracture healing. These studies further examined those populations of cells in the fracture calluses that became labeled and arose from the stem cell populations that had expressed Prx1 at post-operative day 7 and 14. The optimization of a staining method for histology will allow this study to track Prx1 cell fates in a fracture model both in response to specific drug treatments, mechanical loading of the fracture during healing and under pathological conditions that effect healing.