The role of over 300 mammalian genes (mouse) has been revealed by scientists across Europe in a major initiative to understand the part they play in disease and biology. The results have were published online on July 27, 2015 in Nature Genetics. The article is titled “Deciphering Mammalian Gene Function through Broad-Based Phenotypic Screens across a Consortium of Mouse Clinics.” Because mice share 90 percent of our genes, they play an important role in understanding human genetics. The European Mouse Disease Clinic (EUMODIC) brought together scientists from across Europe to investigate the functions of 320 genes in mice. Over half of these genes had no previously known role, and the remaining genes were poorly understood. In order to study gene function, the EUMODIC consortium produced mouse lines which each had a single gene removed. These mouse lines were then analyzed in mouse clinics, where each line was assessed by a series of tests and investigations, allowing researchers to establish the role of the missing genes. Over 80 percent of the mouse lines assessed had a characteristic that provided a clue to what the missing gene’s role might be. If the mouse fails a hearing test, for example, it suggests the missing gene has a role in hearing. In total, the researchers carried out over 150 different tests on each mouse line. EUMODIC represents the first step towards the creation of a database of all mouse gene functions, a vision now being realized by the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC). The IMPC incorporates 20 centers from across the globe with the aim, over the next ten years, of uncovering the role of all 20,000 genes in the mouse genome.
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