Scientific Highlights

Our impactful research publications often appear in highly respected journals and represent an important contribution within the mouse genetics community.

  • 2021

    De novo identification of mammalian ciliary motility proteins using cryo-EM

    Gui, M. et al. (2021) Cell. 184, 23 : 5791-5806.e19

    Dynein-decorated doublet microtubules (DMTs) are critical components of the oscillatory molecular machine of cilia, the axoneme, and have luminal surfaces patterned periodically by microtubule inner proteins (MIPs). Here we present an atomic model of the 48-nm repeat of a mammalian DMT, derived from a cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) map of the complex isolated from bovine respiratory cilia.

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    Zfhx3-mediated genetic ablation of the SCN abolishes light entrainable circadian activity while sparing food anticipatory activity

    Wilcox, A. G. et al. (2021) iScience. 24, 10 : 103142

    Circadian rhythms persist in almost all organisms and are crucial for maintaining appropriate timing in physiology and behaviour. Here, we describe a mouse mutant where the central mammalian pacemaker, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), has been genetically ablated by conditional deletion of the transcription factor Zfhx3 in the developing hypothalamus.

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    Comprehensive phenotypic analysis of the Dp1Tyb mouse strain reveals a broad range of down syndrome-related phenotypes

    Lana-Elola, E. et al. (2021) Dis Model Mech. 14 (10) : dmm049157

    Down syndrome (DS), trisomy 21, results in many complex phenotypes including cognitive deficits, heart defects and craniofacial alterations. Phenotypes arise from an extra copy of human chromosome 21 (Hsa21) genes.

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    Zfhx3 modulates retinal sensitivity and circadian responses to light

    Hughes, S. et al. (2021) Faseb j. 35 : e21802

    Mutations in transcription factors often exhibit pleiotropic effects related to their complex expression patterns and multiple regulatory targets. One such mutation in the zinc finger homeobox 3 (ZFHX3) transcription factor, short circuit (Sci, Zfhx3Sci/+), is associated with significant circadian deficits in mice.

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    LAMA: automated image analysis for the developmental phenotyping of mouse embryos

    Horner, N. R. et al. (2021) Development. 148, 18 : dev192955

    Advanced 3D imaging modalities, such as micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), have been incorporated into the high-throughput embryo pipeline of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC). This project generates large volumes of raw data that cannot be immediately exploited without significant resources of personnel and expertise. Thus, rapid automated annotation is crucial to ensure that 3D imaging data can be integrated with other multi-dimensional phenotyping data.

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    A resource of targeted mutant mouse lines for 5,061 genes

    Birling, M. C. et al. (2021) Nat Genet. 53, 4 : 416-419

    The International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium reports the generation of new mouse mutant strains for more than 5,000 genes, including 2,850 novel null, 2,987 novel conditional-ready and 4,433 novel reporter alleles.

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  • 2020

    The Ncoa7 locus regulates V-ATPase formation and function, neurodevelopment and behaviour

    Castroflorio, E. et al. (2020) Cell Mol Life Sci. 78 : 3503-3524

    Members of the Tre2/Bub2/Cdc16 (TBC), lysin motif (LysM), domain catalytic (TLDc) protein family are associated with multiple neurodevelopmental disorders, although their exact roles in disease remain unclear. For example, nuclear receptor coactivator 7 (NCOA7) has been associated with autism, although almost nothing is known regarding the mode-of-action of this TLDc protein in the nervous system.

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    Forward genetics identifies a novel sleep mutant with sleep state inertia and REM sleep deficits

    Banks, G. T. et al. (2020) Sci Adv. 6, 33 : eabb3567

    Switches between global sleep and wakefulness states are believed to be dictated by top-down influences arising from subcortical nuclei. Using forward genetics and in vivo electrophysiology, we identified a recessive mouse mutant line characterized by a substantially reduced propensity to transition between wake and sleep states with an especially pronounced deficit in initiating rapid eye movement (REM) sleep episodes.

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    Human and mouse essentiality screens as a resource for disease gene discovery

    Cacheiro, P. et al. (2020) Nat Commun. 11 : 655

    The identification of causal variants in sequencing studies remains a considerable challenge that can be partially addressed by new gene-specific knowledge. Here, we integrate measures of how essential a gene is to supporting life, as inferred from viability and phenotyping screens performed on knockout mice by the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium and essentiality screens carried out on human cell lines.

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    The Deep Genome Project

    Lloyd, K. C. K. et al. (2020) Genome Biol. 21 : 18

    In vivo research is critical to the functional dissection of multi-organ systems and whole organism physiology, and the laboratory mouse remains a quintessential animal model for studying mammalian, especially human, pathobiology. Enabled by technological innovations in genome sequencing, mutagenesis and genome editing, phenotype analyses, and bioinformatics, in vivo analysis of gene function and dysfunction in the mouse has delivered new understanding of the mechanisms of disease and accelerated medical advances.

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    High-throughput discovery of genetic determinants of circadian misalignment

    Zhang, T. et al. (2020) PLoS Genet. 16 (1) : e1008577

    In vivo research is critical to the functional dissection of multi-organ systems and whole organism physiology, and the laboratory mouse remains a quintessential animal model for studying mammalian, especially human, pathobiology. Enabled by technological innovations in genome sequencing, mutagenesis and genome editing, phenotype analyses, and bioinformatics, in vivo analysis of gene function and dysfunction in the mouse has delivered new understanding of the mechanisms of disease and accelerated medical advances.

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  • 2019

    Live imaging of alveologenesis in precision-cut lung slices reveals dynamic epithelial cell behaviour

    Akram, K. M. et al. (2019) Nat Commun. 10 : 1178

    Damage to alveoli, the gas-exchanging region of the lungs, is a component of many chronic and acute lung diseases. In addition, insufficient generation of alveoli results in bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a disease of prematurity. Therefore visualising the process of alveolar development (alveologenesis) is critical for our understanding of lung homeostasis and for the development of treatments to repair and regenerate lung tissue.

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    Ciliary exclusion of Polycystin-2 promotes kidney cystogenesis in an autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease model

    Walker, R. V. et al. (2019) Nat Commun. 10 : 4072

    The human PKD2 locus encodes Polycystin-2 (PC2), a TRPP channel that localises to several distinct cellular compartments, including the cilium. PKD2 mutations cause Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD) and affect many cellular pathways. Data underlining the importance of ciliary PC2 localisation in preventing PKD are limited because PC2 function is ablated throughout the cell in existing model systems.

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    Clarin-2 is essential for hearing by maintaining stereocilia integrity and function

    Dunbar, L. A. et al. (2019) EMBO Mol Med. 11 : e10288

    Hearing relies on mechanically gated ion channels present in the actin‐rich stereocilia bundles at the apical surface of cochlear hair cells. Our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the formation and maintenance of the sound‐receptive structure is limited. Utilizing a large‐scale forward genetic screen in mice, genome mapping and gene complementation tests, we identified Clrn2 as a new deafness gene.

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  • 2018

    A Wars2 Mutant Mouse Model Displays OXPHOS Deficiencies and Activation of Tissue-Specific Stress Response Pathways

    Agnew et al. (2018) Cell Rep. 25 : 3315–3328

    Mutations in genes essential for mitochondrial function have pleiotropic effects. The mechanisms underlying these traits yield insights into metabolic homeostasis and potential therapies. Here we report the characterization of a mouse model harboring a mutation in the tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase 2 (Wars2) gene, encoding the mitochondrial-localized WARS2 protein.

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    Helios is a key transcriptional regulator of outer hair cell maturation

    Chessum et al. (2018) Nature. 563 : 393–700

    The sensory cells that are responsible for hearing include the cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) and outer hair cells (OHCs), with the OHCs being necessary for sound sensitivity and tuning1. Both cell types are thought to arise from common progenitors; however, our understanding of the factors that control the fate of IHCs and OHCs remains limited.

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    High-throughput mouse phenomics for characterizing mammalian gene function

    Brown et al. (2018) Nat Rev Genet. 19 : 357–370

    We are entering a new era of mouse phenomics, driven by large-scale and economical generation of mouse mutants coupled with increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive phenotyping. These studies are generating large, multidimensional gene–phenotype data sets, which are shedding new light on the mammalian genome landscape and revealing many hitherto unknown features of mammalian gene function.

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    Mice with endogenous TDP-43 mutations exhibit gain of splicing function and characteristics of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

    Fratta et al. (2018) Embo J.. 37 : e98684

    TDP-43 (encoded by the gene TARDBP) is an RNA binding protein central to the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, how TARDBP mutations trigger pathogenesis remains unknown. Here, we use novel mouse mutants carrying point mutations in endogenous Tardbp to dissect TDP-43 function at physiological levels both in vitro and in vivo.

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    Identification of genetic elements in metabolism by high-throughput mouse phenotyping

    Rozman et al. (2018) Nat Commun. 9 : 288

    Metabolic diseases are a worldwide problem but the underlying genetic factors and their relevance to metabolic disease remain incompletely understood. Genome-wide research is needed to characterize so-far unannotated mammalian metabolic genes. Here, we generate and analyze metabolic phenotypic data of 2016 knockout mouse strains under the aegis of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) and find 974 gene knockouts with strong metabolic phenotypes.

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    Regulatory variants at KLF14 influence type 2 diabetes risk via a female-specific effect on adipocyte size and body composition

    Small et al. (2018) Nat Genet. 50 : 572–580

    Individual risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is modified by perturbations to the mass, distribution and function of adipose tissue. To investigate the mechanisms underlying these associations, we explored the molecular, cellular and whole-body effects of T2D-associated alleles near KLF14. We show that KLF14 diabetes-risk alleles act in adipose tissue to reduce KLF14 expression and modulate, in trans, the expression of 385 genes.

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    ZNRF3 functions in mammalian sex determination by inhibiting canonical WNT signaling

    Harris et al. (2018) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 115 (21) : 5474-5479

    Mammalian sex determination is controlled by the antagonistic interactions of two genetic pathways: The SRY-SOX9-FGF9 network promotes testis determination partly by opposing proovarian pathways, while RSPO1/WNT-β-catenin/FOXL2 signals control ovary development by inhibiting SRY-SOX9-FGF9.

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  • 2017

    A missense mutation in Katnal1 underlies behavioural, neurological and ciliary anomalies

    Banks et al. (2017) Mol Psychiatry. 23 : 713–722

    Microtubule severing enzymes implement a diverse range of tissue-specific molecular functions throughout development and into adulthood. Although microtubule severing is fundamental to many dynamic neural processes, little is known regarding the role of the family member Katanin p60 subunit A-like 1, KATNAL1, in central nervous system (CNS) function.

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    A large scale hearing loss screen reveals an extensive unexplored genetic landscape for auditory dysfunction

    Bowl et al. (2017) Nat Commun. 8 : 886

    The developmental and physiological complexity of the auditory system is likely reflected in the underlying set of genes involved in auditory function. In humans, over 150 non-syndromic loci have been identified, and there are more than 400 human genetic syndromes with a hearing loss component.

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    A mutation in Nischarin causes otitis media via LIMK1 and NF-kappaB pathways

    Crompton et al. (2017) PLoS Genet. 13 : e100696

    Otitis media (OM), inflammation of the middle ear (ME), is a common cause of conductive hearing impairment. Despite the importance of the disease, the aetiology of chronic and recurrent forms of middle ear inflammatory disease remains poorly understood.

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    CIB2 interacts with TMC1 and TMC2 and is essential for mechanotransduction in auditory hair cells

    Giese et al. (2017) Nat Commun. 8 : 43

    Inner ear hair cells detect sound through deflection of stereocilia, the microvilli-like projections that are arranged in rows of graded heights. Calcium and integrin-binding protein 2 is essential for hearing and localizes to stereocilia, but its exact function is unknown.

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    Assisted reproductive technologies to prevent human mitochondrial disease transmission

    Greenfield et al. (2017) Nat Biotechnol. 35 : 1059–1068

    Mitochondria are essential cytoplasmic organelles that generate energy (ATP) by oxidative phosphorylation and mediate key cellular processes such as apoptosis. They are maternally inherited and in humans contain a 16,569-base-pair circular genome (mtDNA) encoding 37 genes required for oxidative phosphorylation.

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    Prevalence of sexual dimorphism in mammalian phenotypic traits

    Karp et al. (2017) Nat Commun. 8 : 15475

    The role of sex in biomedical studies has often been overlooked, despite evidence of sexually dimorphic effects in some biological studies. Here, we used high-throughput phenotype data from 14,250 wildtype and 40,192 mutant mice (representing 2,186 knockout lines), analysed for up to 234 traits, and found a large proportion of mammalian traits both in wildtype and mutants are influenced by sex.

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    Disease model discovery from 3,328 gene knockouts by The International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium

    Meehan et al. (2017) Nat Genet. 49 : 1231–1238

    Although next-generation sequencing has revolutionized the ability to associate variants with human diseases, diagnostic rates and development of new therapies are still limited by a lack of knowledge of the functions and pathobiological mechanisms of most genes. To address this challenge, the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium is creating a genome- and phenome-wide catalog of gene function by characterizing new knockout-mouse strains across diverse biological systems through a broad set of standardized phenotyping tests.

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    CIB2, defective in isolated deafness, is key for auditory hair cell mechanotransduction and survival

    Michel et al. (2017) EMBO Mol Med. 9 : 1711–1731

    Defects of CIB2, calcium- and integrin-binding protein 2, have been reported to cause isolated deafness, DFNB48 and Usher syndrome type-IJ, characterized by congenital profound deafness, balance defects and blindness. We report here two new nonsense mutations (pGln12* and pTyr110*) in CIB2 patients displaying nonsyndromic profound hearing loss, with no evidence of vestibular or retinal dysfunction.

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  • 2016

    Analysis of Individual Mouse Activity in Group Housed Animals of Different Inbred Strains using a Novel Automated Home Cage Analysis System

    Bains et al. (2016) Front Behav Neurosci. 10 : 106

    Central nervous system disorders such as autism as well as the range of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease are commonly investigated using genetically altered mouse models. The current system for characterizing these mice usually involves removing the animals from their home-cage environment and placing them into novel environments where they undergo a battery of tests measuring a range of behavioral and physical phenotypes.

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    Absence of Neuroplastin-65 Affects Synaptogenesis in Mouse Inner Hair Cells and Causes Profound Hearing Loss

    Carrott et al. (2016) J Neurosci. 36 : 222–34

    The Neuroplastin gene encodes two synapse-enriched protein isoforms, Np55 and Np65, which are transmembrane glycoproteins that regulate several cellular processes, including the genesis, maintenance, and plasticity of synapses. We found that an absence of Np65 causes early-onset sensorineural hearing loss and prevented the normal synaptogenesis in inner hair cells (IHCs) in the newly identified mouse mutant pitch.

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    High-throughput discovery of novel developmental phenotypes

    Dickinson et al. (2016) Nature. 537 : 508-514

    Approximately one-third of all mammalian genes are essential for life. Phenotypes resulting from knockouts of these genes in mice have provided tremendous insight into gene function and congenital disorders.

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    Genetic Analysis Reveals a Hierarchy of Interactions between Polycystin-Encoding Genes and Genes Controlling Cilia Function during Left-Right Determination

    Grimes et al. (2016) PLoS Genet. 12 : e1006070

    During mammalian development, left-right (L-R) asymmetry is established by a cilia-driven leftward fluid flow within a midline embryonic cavity called the node. This ‘nodal flow’ is detected by peripherally-located crown cells that each assemble a primary cilium which contain the putative Ca2+ channel PKD2.

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    Correction of the auditory phenotype in C57BL/6N mice via CRISPR/Cas9-mediated homology directed repair

    Mianné et al. (2016) Genome Med. 8 : 16

    Nuclease-based technologies have been developed that enable targeting of specific DNA sequences directly in the zygote. These approaches provide an opportunity to modify the genomes of inbred mice, and allow the removal of strain-specific mutations that confound phenotypic assessment.

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    Early doors (Edo) mutant mouse reveals the importance of period 2 (PER2) PAS domain structure for circadian pacemaking

    Militi et al. (2016) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113 : 2756-61

    The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) defines 24 h of time via a transcriptional/posttranslational feedback loop in which transactivation of Per (period) and Cry (cryptochrome) genes by BMAL1– CLOCK complexes is suppressed by PER–CRY complexes. The molecular/structural basis of how circadian protein complexes function is poorly understood.

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    Genome-wide association of multiple complex traits in outbred mice by ultra-low-coverage sequencing

    Nicod et al. (2016) Nat Genet. 48 : 912–918

    Two bottlenecks impeding the genetic analysis of complex traits in rodents are access to mapping populations able to deliver gene-level mapping resolution and the need for population-specific genotyping arrays and haplotype reference panels. Here we combine low-coverage (0.15×) sequencing with a new method to impute the ancestral haplotype space in 1,887 commercially available outbred mice.

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    Novel gene function revealed by mouse mutagenesis screens for models of age-related disease

    Potter et al. (2016) Nat Commun. 7 : 12444

    Determining the genetic bases of age-related disease remains a major challenge requiring a spectrum of approaches from human and clinical genetics to the utilization of model organism studies. Here we report a large-scale genetic screen in mice employing a phenotype-driven discovery platform to identify mutations resulting in age-related disease, both late-onset and progressive.

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  • 2015

    Comparative visualization of genotype-phenotype relationships

    Yaikhom et al. (2015) Nat Methods. 12 : 698–9

    The International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) aims1 to create a comprehensive functional catalog of the mammalian genome. It currently provides access to over 22 million data points concerning the knockout effects of 1,633 mouse genes on 44 classes of well-defined phenotypic traits.

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    Applying the ARRIVE Guidelines to an In Vivo Database

    Karp et al. (2015) PLoS Biol. 13 : e1002151

    The Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines were developed to address the lack of reproducibility in biomedical animal studies and improve the communication of research findings. While intended to guide the preparation of peer-reviewed manuscripts, the principles of transparent reporting are also fundamental for in vivo databases.

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    The Regulatory Factor ZFHX3 Modifies Circadian Function in SCN via an AT Motif-Driven Axis

    Parsons et al. (2015) Cell. 162 : 607–21

    We identified a dominant missense mutation in the SCN transcription factor Zfhx3, termed short circuit (Zfhx3Sci), which accelerates circadian locomotor rhythms in mice. ZFHX3 regulates transcription via direct interaction with predicted AT motifs in target genes.

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    Analysis of mammalian gene function through broad-based phenotypic screens across a consortium of mouse clinics

    de Angelis et al. (2015) Nat Genet. 47 : 969–78

    The function of the majority of genes in the mouse and human genomes remains unknown. The mouse embryonic stem cell knockout resource provides a basis for the characterization of relationships between genes and phenotypes. The EUMODIC consortium developed and validated robust methodologies for the broad-based phenotyping of knockouts through a pipeline comprising 20 disease-oriented platforms.

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  • 2014

    Atmin mediates kidney morphogenesis by modulating Wnt signaling

    Goggolidou et al. (2014) Hum. Mol. Genet. 23 : 5303–5316

    The DNA damage protein and transcription factor Atmin (Asciz) is required for both lung tubulogenesis and ciliogenesis. Like the lungs, kidneys contain a tubular network that is critical for their function and in addition, renal ciliary dysfunction has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cystic kidney disease. Using the Atmin mouse mutant Gasping6 (Gpg6), we investigated kidney development and found it severely disrupted with reduced branching morphogenesis, resulting in fewer epithelial structures being formed.

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    Dominant β-catenin mutations cause intellectual disability with recognizable syndromic features

    Tucci et al. (2014) J Clin. Invest. 124 : 1468–82

    The recent identification of multiple dominant mutations in the gene encoding β-catenin in both humans and mice has enabled exploration of the molecular and cellular basis of β-catenin function in cognitive impairment. In humans, β-catenin mutations that cause a spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders have been identified. We identified de novo β-catenin mutations in patients with intellectual disability, carefully characterized their phenotypes, and were able to define a recognizable intellectual disability syndrome.

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    Transgenic expression of Map3k4 rescues T-associated sex reversal (Tas) in mice

    Warr et al. (2014) Hum. Mol. Genet. 23 : 3035–3044

    Disorders of sex development in the human population range in severity from mild genital defects to gonadal sex reversal. XY female development has been associated with heterozygous mutations in several genes, including SOX9, WT1 and MAP3K1. In contrast, XY sex reversal in mice usually requires complete absence of testis-determining gene products.

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  • 2013

    Single-cell gene expression analysis reveals genetic associations masked in whole-tissue experiments

    Wills et al. (2013) Nature Biotechnology. 31 : 748–752

    Gene expression in multiple individual cells from a tissue or culture sample varies according to cell-cycle, genetic, epigenetic and stochastic differences between the cells. However, single-cell differences have been largely neglected in the analysis of the functional consequences of genetic variation.

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    IGF-1 receptor antagonism inhibits autophagy

    Renna et al. (2013) Hum. Mol. Genet. 22 : 4528-44

    Inhibition of the insulin/insulin-like growth factor signalling pathway increases lifespan and protects against neurodegeneration in model organisms, and has been considered as a potential therapeutic target. This pathway is upstream of mTORC1, a negative regulator of autophagy. Thus, we expected autophagy to be activated by insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) inhibition, which could account for many of its beneficial effects.

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    Mutations in the GABRB1 gene promote alcohol consumption through increased tonic inhibition

    Anstee et al. (2013) Nat Commun. 4 : 2816

    Alcohol dependence is a common, complex and debilitating disorder with genetic and environmental influences. Here we show that alcohol consumption increases following mutations to the γ-aminobutyric acidA receptor (GABAAR) β1 subunit gene (Gabrb1). Using N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea mutagenesis on an alcohol-averse background (F1 BALB/cAnN x C3H/HeH), we develop a mouse model exhibiting strong heritable preference for ethanol resulting from a dominant mutation (L285R) in Gabrb1.

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    Distinct and separable roles for endogenous CRY1 and CRY2 within the circadian molecular clockwork of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, as revealed by the Fbxl3Afh mutation

    Anand et al. (2013) J Neurosci. 33 : 7145–7153

    The circadian clock of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) drives daily rhythms of behavior. Cryptochromes (CRYs) are powerful transcriptional repressors within the molecular negative feedback loops at the heart of the SCN clockwork, where they periodically suppress their own expression and that of clock-controlled genes.

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    Otitis media in the Tgif knockout mouse implicates TGFβ signalling in chronic middle ear inflammatory disease

    Tateossian et al. (2013) Hum. Mol. Genet. 22 : 2553–2565

    Otitis media with effusion (OME) is the most common cause of hearing loss in children and tympanostomy to alleviate the condition remains the commonest surgical intervention in children in the developed world. Chronic and recurrent forms of OM are known to have a very significant genetic component, however, until recently little was known of the underlying genes involved.

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    A comparative phenotypic and genomic analysis of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N mouse strains

    Simon et al. (2013) Genome Biol. 14 : R82

    The mouse inbred line C57BL/6J is widely used in mouse genetics and its genome has been incorporated into many genetic reference populations. More recently large initiatives such as the International Knockout Mouse Consortium (IKMC) are using the C57BL/6N mouse strain to generate null alleles for all mouse genes.

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  • 2012

    Adult onset global loss of the Fto gene alters body composition and metabolism in the mouse

    McMurray et al. (2012) PLoS Genet. 9 : e1003166

    The strongest BMI-associated GWAS locus in humans is the FTO gene. Rodent studies demonstrate a role for FTO in energy homeostasis and body composition. The phenotypes observed in loss of expression studies are complex with perinatal lethality, stunted growth from weaning, and significant alterations in body composition. Thus understanding how and where Fto regulates food intake, energy expenditure, and body composition is a challenge.

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    Evi1 acts as an inducible negative-feedback regulator of NF-κB by inhibiting p65 acetylation

    Xu et al. (2012) J. Immunol. 188 : 6371–6378

    Inflammation is a hallmark of many important human diseases. Appropriate inflammation is critical for host defense; however, an overactive response is detrimental to the host. Thus, inflammation must be tightly regulated. The molecular mechanisms underlying the tight regulation of inflammation remain largely unknown.

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    Gadd45γ and Map3k4 interactions regulate mouse testis determination via p38 MAPK-mediated control of Sry expression

    Warr et al. (2012) Dev Cell. 23 : 1020–1031

    Loss of the kinase MAP3K4 causes mouse embryonic gonadal sex reversal due to reduced expression of the testis-determining gene, Sry. However, because of widespread expression of MAP3K4, the cellular basis of this misregulation was unclear. Here, we show that mice lacking Gadd45γ also exhibit XY gonadal sex reversal caused by disruption to Sry expression.

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    KATNAL1 Regulation of Sertoli Cell Microtubule Dynamics is Essential for Spermiogenesis and Male Fertility

    Smith et al. (2012) PLoS Genet. 8 : e1002697

    Spermatogenesis is a complex process reliant upon interactions between germ cells (GC) and supporting somatic cells. Testicular Sertoli cells (SC) support GCs during maturation through physical attachment, the provision of nutrients, and protection from immunological attack. This role is facilitated by an active cytoskeleton of parallel microtubule arrays that permit transport of nutrients to GCs, as well as translocation of spermatids through the seminiferous epithelium during maturation.

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  • 2011

    Alpha-synuclein levels modulate Huntington’s disease in mice

    Corrochano et al. (2011) Hum. Mol. Genet. 21 : 485–494

    α-Synuclein and mutant huntingtin are the major constituents of the intracellular aggregates that characterize the pathology of Parkinson's disease (PD) and Huntington's disease (HD), respectively. α-Synuclein is likely to be a major contributor to PD, since overexpression of this protein resulting from genetic triplication is sufficient to cause human forms of PD.

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    HIF-VEGF Pathways are Critical for Chronic Otitis Media in Junbo and Jeff mouse mutants

    Cheeseman et al. (2011) PLoS Genet. 7 : e1002336

    Otitis media with effusion (OME) is the commonest cause of hearing loss in children, yet the underlying genetic pathways and mechanisms involved are incompletely understood. Ventilation of the middle ear with tympanostomy tubes is the commonest surgical procedure in children and the best treatment for chronic OME, but the mechanism by which they work remains uncertain.

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    Human metabolic profiles are stably controlled by genetic and environmental variation

    Nicholson et al. (2011) Mol Syst Biol. 7 : 525

    H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy (¹H NMR) is increasingly used to measure metabolite concentrations in sets of biological samples for top-down systems biology and molecular epidemiology. For such purposes, knowledge of the sources of human variation in metabolite concentrations is valuable, but currently sparse.

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    A genome-wide metabolic QTL analysis in Europeans implicates two loci shaped by recent positive selection

    Nicholson et al. (2011) PLoS Genet. 7 : e1002270

    We have performed a metabolite quantitative trait locus (mQTL) study of the (1)H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H NMR) metabolome in humans, building on recent targeted knowledge of genetic drivers of metabolic regulation. Urine and plasma samples were collected from two cohorts of individuals of European descent, with one cohort comprised of female twins donating samples longitudinally.

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    Uncoupling Antisense-Mediated Silencing and DNA Methylation in the Imprinted Gnas Cluster

    Williamson et al. (2011) PLoS Genet. 7 : e1001347

    There is increasing evidence that non-coding macroRNAs are major elements for silencing imprinted genes, but their mechanism of action is poorly understood. Within the imprinted Gnas cluster on mouse chromosome 2, Nespas is a paternally expressed macroRNA that arises from an imprinting control region and runs antisense to Nesp, a paternally repressed protein coding transcript.

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    Pkd1l1 establishes left-right asymmetry and physically interacts with Pkd2

    Field et al. (2011) Development. 138 : 1131–42

    In mammals, left-right (L-R) asymmetry is established by posteriorly oriented cilia driving a leftwards laminar flow in the embryonic node, thereby activating asymmetric gene expression. The two-cilia hypothesis argues that immotile cilia detect and respond to this flow through a Pkd2-mediated mechanism; a putative sensory partner protein has, however, remained unidentified.

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  • 2010

    Mutations in MAP3K1 Cause 46,XY Disorders of Sex Development and Implicate a Common Signal Transduction Pathway in Human Testis Determination

    Pearlman et al. (2010) Am. J. Hum. Genet. 87 : 898–904

    Investigations of humans with disorders of sex development (DSDs) resulted in the discovery of many of the now-known mammalian sex-determining genes, including SRY, RSPO1, SOX9, NR5A1, WT1, NR0B1, and WNT4. Here, the locus for an autosomal sex-determining gene was mapped via linkage analysis in two families with 46,XY DSD to the long arm of chromosome 5 with a combined, multipoint parametric LOD score of 6.21.

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    The planar cell polarity gene Vangl2 is required for mammalian kidney branching morphogenesis and glomerular maturation

    Yates et al. (2010) Hum. Mol. Genet. 9 : 4663–76

    The planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway, incorporating non-canonical Wnt signalling, controls embryonic convergent (CE) extension, polarized cell division and ciliary orientation. It also limits diameters of differentiating renal tubules, with mutation of certain components of the pathway causing cystic kidneys.

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    Overexpression of Fto leads to increased food intake and results in obesity

    Church et al. (2010) Nat Genet. 42 : 1086–92

    Genome-wide association studies have identified SNPs within FTO, the human fat mass and obesity-associated gene, that are strongly associated with obesity. Individuals homozygous for the at-risk rs9939609 A allele weigh, on average, ~3 kg more than individuals with the low-risk T allele.

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    Alpha-synuclein impairs macroautophagy: implications for Parkinson’s disease

    Winslow et al. (2010) J Cell Biol. 190 : 1023–37

    Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized pathologically by intraneuronal inclusions called Lewy bodies, largely comprised of α-synuclein. Multiplication of the α-synuclein gene locus increases α-synuclein expression and causes PD. Thus, overexpression of wild-type α-synuclein is toxic.

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    Rilmenidine attenuates toxicity of polyglutamine expansions in a mouse model of Huntington's disease

    Rose et al. (2010) Hum Mol Genet. 19 : 2144–53

    Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by a polyglutamine expansion in huntingtin. There are no treatments that are known to slow the neurodegeneration caused by this mutation. Mutant huntingtin causes disease via a toxic gain-of-function mechanism and has the propensity to aggregate and form intraneuronal inclusions.

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    A mutation in Kcnj11 causing human hyperinsulinism (Y12X) results in a glucose intolerant phenotype in the mouse

    Hugil et al. (2010) Diabetologia. 53 : 2352–6

    We identified a mouse with a point mutation (Y12STOP) in the Kcnj11 subunit of the K(ATP) channel. This point mutation is identical to that found in a patient with congenital hyperinsulinism of infancy (HI). We aimed to characterise the phenotype arising from this loss-of-function mutation and to compare it with that of other mouse models and patients with HI.

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    The PCP genes Celsr1 and Vangl2 are required for normal lung branching morphogenesis

    Yates et al. (2010) Hum. Mol. Genet. 19 : 2251–2267

    The lungs are generated by branching morphogenesis as a result of reciprocal signalling interactions between the epithelium and mesenchyme during development. Mutations that disrupt formation of either the correct number or shape of epithelial branches affect lung function.

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  • 2009

    Loss of Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Kinase Kinase 4 (MAP3K4) Reveals a Requirement for MAPK Signalling in Mouse Sex Determination

    Bogani et al. (2009) PLoS Biol. 7 : e1000196

    Sex determination in mammals is controlled by the presence or absence of the Y-linked gene SRY. In the developing male (XY) gonad, sex-determining region of the Y (SRY) protein acts to up-regulate expression of the related gene, SOX9, a transcriptional regulator that in turn initiates a downstream pathway of testis development, whilst also suppressing ovary development.

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    A Mouse Model for the Metabolic Effects of the Human Fat Mass and Obesity Associated FTO Gene

    Church et al. (2009) PLoS Genet. 5 : e1000599

    Human FTO gene variants are associated with body mass index and type 2 diabetes. Because the obesity-associated SNPs are intronic, it is unclear whether changes in FTO expression or splicing are the cause of obesity or if regulatory elements within intron 1 influence upstream or downstream genes.

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