Genetically manipulated mice: A powerful tool with unsuspected caveats

Klaus I. Matthaei*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    70 Citations (Scopus)


    Although genetic manipulations in mice have provided a powerful tool for investigating gene function in vivo, recent studies have uncovered a number of developmental phenomena that complicate the attribution of phenotype to the specific genetic change. A more realistic approach has been to modulate gene expression and function in a temporal and tissue-specific manner. The most common of these methods, the Cre LoxP and tetracycline response systems, are surveyed here and their recently identified shortcomings discussed, along with a less well known system based on the E. coli lac operon and modified for use in mammals. The potential for further complications in interpretation due to hitherto unexpected epigenetic effects involving transfer of RNA or protein in oocytes or sperm is also explored. Given these problems we reiterate the necessity for the use of completely reversible methods that will allow each experimental group of animals to act as their own control. Using these methods with a number of specific modifications to eliminate non-specific effects from random insertion sites and inducer molecules, the full potential of genetic manipulation studies should be realized.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)481-488
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Physiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


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