Laboratory Animal Medicine

Laboratory Animal Medicine (Third Edition)

American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine
2015, Pages 1403-1416
Laboratory Animal Medicine

Chapter 31 - Genetic Monitoring of Laboratory Mice and Rats

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In the early days of research involving mice and rats, the importance of both genetic and health quality and monitoring of that quality was not recognized. The health quality of animals was quickly reflected in sick animals that could not be used for research, so immediate strides were made to ensure animal health in the research environment. Recognition of and efforts to maintain genetic quality lagged behind as laboratory animal genetics was initially only important to geneticists. As detailed investigations into genetics and immunology began, the inbred mouse and more recently, the rat, arose as genetic models of disease (Malakoff, 2000) and with those came the challenge of maintaining genetic homogeneity. Human error and genetic drift are ever-present sources of unwanted genetic heterogeneity, which ultimately lead to experimental irreproducibility. Genetic monitoring and colony maintenance quality control are necessary measures to detect and remove unwanted genetic heterogeneity. This chapter will discuss the rationale for genetic homogeneity and monitoring, the history of genetic monitoring from its inception to today, and current and historical means by which this may be accomplished. Also addressed in the chapter are current monitoring paradigms, or genetic quality control, for mice and rats, including inbred, congenic, outbred, and genetically engineered strains, as well as the role of breeders, vivaria, and end users in genetic quality control. Finally, the future of genetic monitoring and genetic quality control will be discussed.

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