Molecular Medicine Israel

Researchers have sequenced the genomes of 17 different mouse strains, boosting research into the genetic basis of phenotypic variation, disease, and evolution.

different mouse strains
Courtesy of Anna-Karin Gerdin, The Sanger Institute

Nature, 477 (7364):289-94, 2011. doi:10.1038/nature10413.

Keane TM, Goodstadt L, Danecek P et al.
Mouse genomic variation and its effect on phenotypes and gene regulation”.

Nature, 477 (7364):326-329, 2011. doi:10.1038/nature10432.
Yalcin B, Wong K, Agam A et al.
“Sequence-based characterization of structural variation in the mouse genome”.


Researchers investigating genetic variation and its contribution to phenotypic differences have gained a windfall of data, described in two Nature papers. A collaboration involving more than forty scientists from the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States have published the sequences of 17 different mouse genomes, including 13 of the most common lab strains and 4 wild-derived strains. The breadth of the data, publicly available, promises to aid research tracing the link between DNA sequence and phenotype, and shed light on the genetic underpinnings of disease susceptibility and species evolution.

The new sequences are “eminently more powerful than previous mouse data,” said David Threadgill, a geneticist atNorth CarolinaStateUniversity who was not involved with the project. Although the first mouse genome sequence (strain C57BL/6) was released in 2002, scientists using other strains had little sequence data to support their research.

“It’s a misperception that we had strain sequences,” explained Threadgill—most of the data had focused on mapping single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, to the C57BL/6 reference strain, leaving large swathes of mouse genomes unsequenced. In addition to identifying over 56 million SNPs, the new data also identify many larger structural variations, including insertions, deletions, and copy number variations in areas of the genome with repeated DNA sequences.

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