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Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Apr 12;9(6):953-65.

Dissection of behavior and psychiatric disorders using the mouse as a model.

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  • 1Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Mouse genetic models have played an important role in the elucidation of molecular pathways underlying human disease. This approach is becoming an increasingly popular way to study the genetic underpinning of psychiatric disorders. Genes within candidate regions for susceptibility to psychiatric illness can be evaluated through the phenotypic assessment of mutants mapped to the corresponding regions in the mouse genome. Alternatively, one can search for mouse mutants displaying characteristics that might correspond to physiological and behavioral markers of a psychiatric disorder, sometimes referred to as endophenotypes. Mice with anomalies in these traits can be generated by targeted mutagenesis in known genes (gene-based mutagenesis or reverse genetics), or can be identified among progeny of mice in a random mutagenesis screen (phenotype-based mutagenesis or forward genetics). In this review, we discuss recently generated behavioral mutants in the mouse. We also give an overview of several robust and commonly used behavioral phenotypes, their relevance to human disease and lessons learned from recent successes in mouse behavioral genetics.

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