A systematic, genome-wide, phenotype-driven mutagenesis programme for gene function studies in the mouse


As the human genome project approaches completion, the challenge for mammalian geneticists is to develop approaches for the systematic determination of mammalian gene function. Mouse mutagenesis will be a key element of studies of gene function1,2,3. Phenotype-driven approaches using the chemical mutagen ethylnitrosourea4,5,6 (ENU) represent a potentially efficient route for the generation of large numbers of mutant mice that can be screened for novel phenotypes. The advantage of this approach is that, in assessing gene function, no a priori assumptions are made about the genes involved in any pathway. Phenotype-driven mutagenesis is thus an effective method for the identification of novel genes and pathways1,2. We have undertaken a genome-wide, phenotype-driven screen for dominant mutations in the mouse. We generated and screened over 26,000 mice, and recovered some 500 new mouse mutants. Our work, along with the programme reported in the accompanying paper7, has led to a substantial increase in the mouse mutant resource and represents a first step towards systematic studies of gene function in mammalian genetics.

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Figure 1: A few mutants with visible phenotypes detected in the mutagenesis programme.


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We thank A. Jordan, N. Chobrot, K. Arnold, N. Sear, A. Parker, J. Airey,M. Boatfield, S. Mansell, C. Johns, S. Clements, A. Nash, S. Smythe, I. Latham, K. Doncaster, C. Parsons and L. Rooke for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Medical Research Council, SmithKline Beecham, the European Union, the Motor Neuron Disease Association and the Birth Defects Foundation.

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Correspondence to Steve D.M. Brown.

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Nolan, P., Peters, J., Strivens, M. et al. A systematic, genome-wide, phenotype-driven mutagenesis programme for gene function studies in the mouse. Nat Genet 25, 440–443 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/78140

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