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Brain Res. 1997 Jul 11;762(1-2):12-8.

Behavioural performance in three substrains of mouse strain 129.

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Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Institute, Department of Neuroendocrinology, Munich, Germany.


Recently, the possibility has been raised that the behavioural abnormalities seen in null-mutant mice might be determined by their genetic background rather than by loss of gene function, especially when the 129 mouse strain is used as supplier for embryonic stem (ES) cells. To examine this issue we tested three 129 mouse substrains (129/J, 129/Ola, 129/Sv-ter/+) and C57BL/6 (B6) in the Morris water maze, the open field, the plus maze and two tests assessing motor co-ordination. We identified only for the 129/J substrain substantial behavioural deficits. These mice are albinos and carry the pink-eyed dilution allele and differed in their basal anxiety level as assessed in the open-field test. They were severely impaired in spatial learning and memory (Morris water maze test), in the Porsolt swim test, which also measures learning and in motor co-ordination. However, the 129/J substrain has not been used as ES cell donor in null-mutant mice where behavioural abnormalities were observed. Instead, mice from 129/Ola and 129/Sv-ter/+ substrains have been commonly used as suppliers for ES cells. These performed normally in most of the tests, including Morris water maze test.

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