What are knockout mice?
Knockout mice are animal models that have been genetically modified to delete or inactivate a specific gene. The term ‘knockout’ refers to knocking out the functionality of the target gene. These mouse models allow researchers to gain insight into how the loss of the gene affects physiology, behavior and disease development. Observing the characteristics of a knockout phenotype can also help researchers understand human gene expression and genetic diseases.
Study of gene function
Loss of function is a valuable scientific method to study gene function by comparing the knockout animal model to a wild-type mouse. Sometimes a gene of interest needs to be inactivated at a certain developmental stage or cell type for a defined phenotype of interest to be observed. Conditional knockout models enable the study of gene inactivation in a specific cell type, tissue of interest, or in a temporally controlled manner, such as a defined developmental stage from pups to adult mice.
Human disease research
Knockout mouse models have been used extensively to research human diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases, and have formed the basis of many of the advances in human medicine. By creating a knockout mouse model for one of the many genes suspected of contributing to a particular human disease, scientists can investigate what effect knocking out this gene might have on the development of disease over time.
How to make conditional knockout mice?
A conditional knockout allele can be created using Cre/Lox technology, which involves inserting Lox sites to flank an essential exon or exons in a gene. The conditional knockout mice are phenotypically wild type but contain the ‘floxed’ allele in all tissues. Cre recombinase then excises the DNA between two Lox sites resulting in a non-functional knockout allele. Breeding to different Cre mice allows for the generation of full body, tissue-specific or inducible knockout mice. At Ozgene, the timelines, efficiency and animal ethics of gene targeting in ES cells have been significantly improved by the use of our proprietary goGermline™ technology.
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