Genetically altered mice: Phenotypes, no phenotypes, and Faux phenotypes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


'Phenotype' means different things, but whatever the measure, phenotype can be profoundly influenced by genetic, environmental and infectious variables. The laboratory mouse is a complex multisystemic organism which, despite its genetically inbred nature, as highly variable pathophysiologic characteristics. Mouse strains have background characteristics that can influence genomics research. In addition to the mouse itself, different approaches toward creating mutant mice each create variables that influence phenotype. Different background strains of mice are utilized for these different approaches, and various strains are preferred among different laboratories. Background genotype significantly influences phenotype of gene mutations, as can insufficient genetic stabilization of a mutation. Research programs engaged in functional mouse genomics not only must use genetically well-defined mice, but also must incorporate environmental and infectious disease quality assurance/prevention programs. Laboratory mice are subject to over 60 different infectious disease agents, including a wide variety of viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and metazoa. Although these agents can be readily diagnosed and prevented, a number of forces are resulting in their rise in prevalence in mouse colonies. Infectious disease, including clinically silent infections, can and do influence phenotype, and can jeopardize research considerably through lost time, wasted effort, cost, and even loss of valuable strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Behavior
  • Environment
  • Genetic variables
  • Genotype
  • Infectious disease
  • Phenotype
  • Technical variables

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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