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Large-scale N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis of mice - from phenotypes to genes

  • Birgit Rathkolb (a1), Edith Fuchs (a1), Helmut J. Kolb (a1), Ingrid Renner-Müller (a1), Ottheinz Krebs (a1), Rudi Balling (a1), Martin Hrabé de Angelis (a1) and Eckhard Wolf (a1)...
    • Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 January 2001

Abstract

The most important tool for obtaining insight into the function of genes is the use of mutant model organisms. Homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells allows the systematic production of mouse mutants for any gene that has been cloned. Gene trap strategies have been designed to interrupt even unknown genes which are tagged by the inserted vector and can be characterised structurally and functionally. Complementary to such 'gene-driven' approaches, 'phenotype-driven' approaches are necessary to identify new genes or gene products through a search for mutants with specific defects, uncovering the function of genetic pathways in physiological and pathological processes. Mutagenesis using the alkylating agent N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea (ENU) is a powerful approach for the production of such mouse mutants. Since ENU induces mainly point mutations in premeiotic spermatogonia, this strategy allows the production of multiple alleles of a particular gene, which is pivotal for a fine tuned analysis of its function.

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