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Tools for genetics and genomics: Specially bred and genetically engineered mice

Robert D Blank, MD, PhD
Section Editor
Benjamin A Raby, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Jennifer S Tirnauer, MD


Laboratory mice are among the most widely used model systems in biomedical research.

The breeding strategies and genetics of laboratory mice are introduced in this topic review. Detailed information regarding specific mouse strains and breeding constructs are available online at The Jackson Laboratory website.

Other model systems for studying human disease are discussed separately (eg, yeast, worm, fruit fly, zebrafish). (See "Tools for genetics and genomics: Model systems".)


Strains of inbred mice are model organisms for genetic studies, with hundreds of inbred strains in existence. For the purposes of genetic investigations, the key properties of inbred mice are that they are essentially isogenic and homozygous. Isogenicity means that sex-matched individuals have the same genotype across the entire genome. Homozygosity means that both chromosomes carry the same allele of each locus.

Concepts of inbreeding were introduced in a classic paper from 1931 [1]. A brief summary of the principles and standards of inbreeding includes the following:


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