, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 79-99

Mouse genetics in the 21st century: using gene targeting to create a cornucopia of mouse mutants possessing precise genetic modifications

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Over 1500 mouse mutants have been identified, but few of the genes responsible for the defects have been identified. Recent developments in the area of gene targeting are revolutionizing the field of mouse genetics and our understanding of numerous genes, including those thought to be involved in cell proliferation and differentiation. Gene targeting was developed as a method for producing a predetermined mutation in a specific endogenous gene. Advances in the design of targeting vectors and in the use of embryonic stem cells have permitted the production of numerous mutant mice with null mutations in specific genes. These mutant mice will be critical for investigating thein vivo functions of many genes that have been cloned in recent years. This review discusses a wide range of new developments in the field of gene targeting with a focus on issues to be considered by those planning to use this new technology. It also examines some of the lessons learned from recent gene targeting studies and discusses different applications of the technology that are likely to generate scores of new animal models for a wide range of human diseases.