Mouse genome will help identify causes of environmental disease

July 30, 2007

Research on the DNA of 15 mouse strains commonly used in biomedical studies is expected to help scientists determine the genes related to susceptibility to environmental disease. The body of data is now publicly available in a catalog of genetic variants, which displays the data as a mouse haplotype map, a tool that separates chromosomes in to many small segments, helping researchers find genes and genetic variations in mice that may affect health and disease.

The haplotype map appearing online in the July 29th issue of Nature is the first published full descriptive analysis of the “Mouse Genome Resequencing and SNP Discovery Project” conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

“These data allow researchers to compare the genetic makeup of one mouse strain to another, and perform the necessary genetic analyses to determine why some individuals might be more susceptible to disease than another. This puts us one step closer to understanding individual susceptibility to environmental toxins in humans. We also hope that pharmaceutical companies developing new treatments for environmental diseases will find these data and this paper as a valuable resource,” said David A. Schwartz. M.D., NIEHS Director.

The paper describes in detail the laborious and technology-driven approaches that were used to identify 8.27 million high quality SNPs distributed among the genomes of 15 mouse strains. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs (known as snips), are single genetic changes, or variations, that can occur in a DNA sequence.

Much of the project was conducted through a contract between the National Toxicology Program at NIEHS and Perlegen Sciences, Inc. of Mountain View Calif.

“The database of mouse genetic variation should facilitate a wide range of important biological studies, and helps demonstrate the utility of this array technology approach,” said David R. Cox, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Perlegen Sciences, Inc.

The Perlegen scientists used C57BL/6J the first mouse strain to undergo DNA sequencing as their standard reference to conduct the re-sequencing on the four wild-derived and eleven classical mouse strains. The technology used, the oligonucleotide array, was also used to discover common DNA variation in the human genome.

The arrays looked at about 1.49 billion bases (58 percent) of the 2.57 billion base pair of their standard reference strain. The data were then used to develop the haplotype map which contains 40,898 segments.

“The data will be a valuable resource to many, including the National Toxicology Program,” Schwartz says. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is an interagency program, headquartered at NIEHS, with the mission to coordinate, conduct and communicate toxicological research across the U.S. government.

“The NTP is looking forward to exploring the responses of these strains of mice to various environmental agents,” said John Bucher, Ph.D., the new associate director of the NTP.

Frank M. Johnson, Ph. D., an NTP research geneticist and one of the authors of the Nature paper, adds that systematically characterizing even more mouse strains for susceptibility to toxins will not only help with genetic analysis, but better position researchers to do intervention studies.

Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Explore further: A model for ageing

Related Stories

A model for ageing

August 7, 2015

Life is short, especially for the killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri: It lives for only a few months and then its time is up. During that short lifespan it passes through every phase of life from larva to venerable old fish. ...

Rejuvenating the comparative approach in modern neuroscience

July 20, 2015

65 years ago, the famed behavioral endocrinologist Frank Beach wrote an article in The American Psychologist entitled 'The Snark was a Boojum'. The title refers to Lewis Carroll's poem 'The Hunting of the Snark', in which ...

New tool brings standards to epigenetic studies

June 4, 2015

One of the most widely used tools in epigenetics research - the study of how DNA packaging affects gene expression - is chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), a technique that allows researchers to examine interactions between ...

Viruses: You've heard the bad—here's the good

April 30, 2015

"The word, virus, connotes morbidity and mortality, but that bad reputation is not universally deserved," said Marilyn Roossinck, PhD, Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology and Biology at the Pennsylvania ...

How does space travel affect organ development?

December 10, 2014

The crew of the International Space Station will soon be joined by 180 mice from Berkeley Lab. Their mission: help scientists learn how space travel affects the immune system, organ development, and reproduction across generations.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.