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Methods. 2011 Apr;53(4):394-404. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2010.12.017. Epub 2010 Dec 23.

High-throughput mouse phenotyping.

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MRC Mammalian Genetics Unit, MRC Harwell, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Harwell OX11 0RD, UK.


Comprehensive phenotyping will be required to reveal the pleiotropic functions of a gene and to uncover the wider role of genetic loci within diverse biological systems. The challenge will be to devise phenotyping approaches to characterise the thousands of mutants that are being generated as part of international efforts to acquire a mutant for every gene in the mouse genome. In order to acquire robust datasets of broad based phenotypes from mouse mutants it is necessary to design and implement pipelines that incorporate standardised phenotyping platforms that are validated across diverse mouse genetics centres or mouse clinics. We describe here the rationale and methodology behind one phenotyping pipeline, EMPReSSslim, that was designed as part of the work of the EUMORPHIA and EUMODIC consortia, and which exemplifies some of the challenges facing large-scale phenotyping. EMPReSSslim captures a broad range of data on diverse biological systems, from biochemical to physiological amongst others. Data capture and dissemination is pivotal to the operation of large-scale phenotyping pipelines, including the definition of parameters integral to each phenotyping test and the associated ontological descriptions. EMPReSSslim data is displayed within the EuroPhenome database, where a variety of tools are available to allow the user to search for interesting biological or clinical phenotypes.

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