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J Exp Zool. 1990 Feb;253(2):151-62.

Phenotypic characterization of the transgenic mouse insertional mutation, legless.

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Graduate Program in Developmental Biology, University of Cincinnati, Ohio.


In this report, we describe the dysmorphologic phenotype associated with the transgenic insertional mutation legless. This autosomal recessive, perinatally lethal mutation results in an interesting pleiotropic array of congenital malformations. The phenotype of the legless mutation in homozygous perinatal mutants is compared to wild-type nontransgenic and heterozygous siblings. Skeletal, craniofacial, and visceral malformations are characterized. We have observed by skeletal analysis a consistent loss of distal hindlimb structures, as well as the loss of distal forelimb structures with a predilection for the preaxial side of the developing forelimb. Craniofacial malformations commonly observed appear to represent a range of severity of affect, with the mildest manifestation evident as apparently shallow lateral clefts of the upper lip and mild midfacial clefts accompanied by clefts of the secondary palate. At the severe end of the spectrum, the midline clefts of the face (and secondary palate) are very wide, with obvious accompanying frontonasal encephaloceles and overt lateral clefts of the upper lip. Examination of the mutant brain has demonstrated marked defects in the anterior structures, particularly the olfactory lobes and cerebrum, in greater than 90% of the brains studied. Observation of the internal viscera has identified transposition of thoracic and abdominal organs in approximately 50% of the mutant offspring. The limb, head, and visceral defects were not observed in the wild-type nontransgenic or heterozygous siblings. Transgenic insertional mutations leading to congenital malformations are useful because the transgene sequence may serve as a tag to facilitate molecular retrieval. Analysis of the flanking DNA sequences will allow the identification of the interrupted gene. A complete description of the mutant phenotype will assist in the understanding of this genetic locus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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