The development of methods for introducing foreign genes into the germ line of mice provides an approach for studying mechanisms underlying inducible and developmental gene regulation1-3. Transgenic animals expressing foreign genes have thus been used to test models of the role played by specific DNA sequences in determining cell-specific expression. Results from these experiments suggest that tissue-specific expression is the consequence of a cis-acting regulatory sequence4-11. However, these results do not exclude the possibility that cell-specific expression of some genes might be 'coded' by combinations of regulatory elements. We have previously described the production of transgenic mice from eggs microinjected with metallothionein-I/ growth hormone (MGH) fusion genes12, and now demonstrate that the juxtaposition of sequences from two different genes can be deciphered by cells to generate novel tissue specificities. Although expression of the endogenous metallothionein and growth hormone genes has not been detected in neuronal cells, transgenic mice clearly express an MGH fusion gene in a restricted subset of neurones. These results suggest a model in which tissue-specific patterns of expression of certain genes are determined by combinations of cis-acting regulatory sequences.
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