Insufficiently defined genetic background confounds phenotypes in transgenic studies as exemplified by malaria infection in Tlr9 knockout mice.

TitleInsufficiently defined genetic background confounds phenotypes in transgenic studies as exemplified by malaria infection in Tlr9 knockout mice.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsGeurts, N., E. Martens, S. Verhenne, N. Lays, G. Thijs, S. Magez, B. Cauwe, S. Li, H. Heremans, G. Opdenakker, and P. E. Van den Steen
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue11
Paginatione27131
Date Published2011
ISSN1932-6203
KeywordsAnimals, Malaria, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Mice, Transgenic, Plasmodium chabaudi, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Toll-Like Receptor 9
Abstract

The use of genetically modified mice, i.e. transgenic as well as gene knockout (KO) and knock-in mice, has become an established tool to study gene function in many animal models for human diseases. However, a gene functions in a particular genomic context. This implies the importance of a well-defined homogenous genetic background for the analysis and interpretation of phenotypes associated with genetic mutations. By studying a Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi AS (PcAS) malaria infection in mice bearing a TLR9 null mutation, we found an increased susceptibility to infection, i.e. higher parasitemia levels and increased mortality. However, this was not triggered by the deficient TLR9 gene itself. Instead, this disease phenotype was dependent on the heterogeneous genetic background of the mice, which appeared insufficiently defined as determined by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis. Hence, it is of critical importance to study gene KO phenotypes on a homogenous genetic background identical to that of their wild type (WT) control counterparts. In particular, to avoid problems related to an insufficiently defined genetic background, we advocate that for each study involving genetically modified mice, at least a detailed description of the origin and genetic background of both the WT control and the altered strain of mice is essential.

DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0027131
Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID22096530
PubMed Central IDPMC3214040