Trans-NIH Mouse Initiative


Mouse Genome Centre Medical Research Council
Harwell, United Kingdom

The Mammalian Genetics Unit and Mouse Genome Centre at Harwell comprise an integrated campus for mouse genetics research with excellent facilities for molecular genetics, genomics, mutagenesis, transgenesis and informatics. The Unit uses a wide range of mouse genetic approaches for both systematic and targeted approaches to the study of gene function, with particular emphasis on mouse models of human genetic disease. The ongoing research programmes take advantage of a combination of facilities and expertise that is unique inside Europe. The Unit is supported by a number of key Core facilities including Animal and Transgenic facilities, the Embryo Bank, a Genotyping/Arraying/Sequencing Core, Cytogenetics and the Informatics Group.

In addition to these facilities, the Unit undertakes two critical programmes of benefit to the mammalina genetics community worldwide:

Induction and Analysis of New Mouse Mutations

    In order to close the phenotype gap in the mouse, a major programme of ENU mutagenesis in collaboration with SmithKline Beecham, Queen Mary and Westfield College and Imperial College, London has been underway for the last year. We are undertaking a genome-wide screen of up to 15,000 mice per year for dominant mutations. The focus is on the implementation of efficient screens for the recovery of wide range of novel phenotpyes including neurological, behavioural and deafness mutations. However, it is also proposed to provide "hotel" facilities to outside investigators who would be able to apply screens either to all or a portion of the mutant progeny. In tandem, part of the mutagenesis effort is devoted to a targeted programme of mutagenesis to recover recessive mutations within the a deletion region on mouse chromosome 13.

The Harwell Embryo/Sperm Bank

    The mouse embryo bank provides a collection and storage service to the scientific community to safeguard unique genetic stocks.

    The bank already contains a wide range of important mutant, transgenic and inbred lines that are available for recovery and supply (as frozen embryos or breeding nuclei). The MGU frozen embryo bank is the largest in Europe and the second largest of its kind in the world. At present, it contains approximately 800 different stocks of mice and in excess of 230,000 embryos. The stocks consist mainly of mouse mutations and chromosome anomalies, although there are also several inbred strains and transgenic lines. Recent advances in the techniques of mouse sperm freezing implemented at Harwell have allowed us to extend our mutant archiving activities to the implementation of a major mouse sperm bank for the storage of many mutant lines from the Harwell mutagenesis programme.