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Mutations galore

The idea of performing genetic screenings in mammals akin to what has been achieved in Drosophila melanogaster or in the zebrafish has always seemed a daunting task to most researchers. Luckily, not everybody has been intimidated by this challenge and a few groups have already embarked on large-scale mammalian mutagenesis projects. They have begun to put together significant collections of mutant mice — the mammal of choice for genetic studies — and their lists of available phenotypes just keep growing and growing.

There are several web sites where you can find all the relevant information on the different mutants screened so far and, more importantly, where you can ask the scientists responsible for the different programmes to share their mice with you. Although not all of the phenotypes are related to defects of the nervous system, many of them do show evident sensory, motor or behavioural abnormalities. It is therefore a good idea to pay a visit to their web sites and see whether a given mutant is capable of feeding your imagination. But visit the sites periodically because the list of available mice changes quite frequently.

The ENU mutagenesis programme at Harwell (UK) and the ENU-mouse mutagenesis screen project in the Deutsches Humangenomprojekt (Germany) are just two of the centres that have taken on the Herculean task of screening the mouse genome. If you know about any other sites, please let us know so that we include them in our list of recommended links.


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López, J. Mutations galore. Nat Rev Neurosci 1, 158 (2000).

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