Mammalian Genome

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 318-331

First online:

Genetic background determines metabolic phenotypes in the mouse

  • Marie-France ChampyAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris Email author 
  • , Mohammed SelloumAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Valérie ZeitlerAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Claudia CaradecAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Barbara JungAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Stéphane RousseauAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Laurent PouillyAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Tania SorgAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la Souris
  • , Johan AuwerxAffiliated withInstitut Clinique de la SourisInstitut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS/INSERM/Université Louis Pasteur Email author 

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To evaluate the contribution of genetic background to phenotypic variation, we compared a large range of biochemical and metabolic parameters at different ages of four inbred mice strains, C57BL/6J, 129SvPas, C3HeB/FeJ, and Balb/cByJ. Our results demonstrate that important metabolic, hematologic, and biochemical differences exist between these different inbred strains. Most of these differences are gender independent and are maintained or accentuated throughout life. It is therefore imperative that the genetic background is carefully defined in phenotypic studies. Our results also argue that certain backgrounds are more suited to study a given physiologic phenomenon, as distinct mouse strains have a different propensity to develop particular biochemical, hematologic, and metabolic abnormalities. These genetic differences can furthermore be exploited to identify new genes/proteins that contribute to phenotypic abnormalities. The choice of the genetic background in which to generate and analyze genetically engineered mutant mice is important as it is, together with environmental factors, one of the most important contributors to the variability of phenotypic results.