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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Sep 28;107(39):16904-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1012050107. Epub 2010 Sep 13.

Spontaneous Irs1 passenger mutation linked to a gene-targeted SerpinB2 allele.

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  • 1Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


In characterizing mice with targeted disruption of the SerpinB2 gene, we observed animals that were small at birth with delayed growth and decreased life expectancy. Although this phenotype cosegregated with homozygosity for the inactive SerpinB2 allele, analysis of homozygous SerpinB2-deficient mice derived from two additional independent embryonic stem (ES) cell clones exhibited no growth abnormalities. Examination of additional progeny from the original SerpinB2-deficient line revealed recombination between the small phenotype (smla) and the SerpinB2 locus. The locus responsible for smla was mapped to a 2.78-Mb interval approximately 30 Mb proximal to SerpinB2, bounded by markers D1Mit382 and D1Mit216. Sequencing of Irs1 identified a nonsense mutation at serine 57 (S57X), resulting in complete loss of IRS1 protein expression. Analysis of ES cell DNA suggests that the S57X Irs1 mutation arose spontaneously in an ES cell subclone during cell culture. Although the smla phenotype is similar to previously reported Irs1 alleles, mice exhibited decreased survival, in contrast to the enhanced longevity reported for IRS1 deficiency generated by gene targeting. This discrepancy could result from differences in strain background, unintended indirect effects of the gene targeting, or the minimal genetic interference of the S57X mutation compared with the conventionally targeted Irs1-KO allele. Spontaneous mutations arising during ES cell culture may be a frequent but underappreciated occurrence. When linked to a targeted allele, such mutations could lead to incorrect assignment of phenotype and may account for a subset of markedly discordant results from experiments independently targeting the same gene.

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