Research Highlights

Our closest look at mouse genes

Published online 17 August 2015

Researchers from around the world identify the role of hundreds of mice genes with unknown function.

Mohammed Yahia

About a third of all mouse genes have been linked to physical traits, but scrutiny thereof usually depended on what the researcher is looking for and their interests. Additionally, the function of the majority of genes in the mouse still remains unknown. 

So Steve Brown and colleagues from 18 institutes in eight countries, including Saudi Arabia, took an international multicentre approach to phenotype different mutant mice lines1. They developed methodologies to analyse the full range of phenotypes for known mutations of 320 unique mouse genes.  

This is the largest functional analysis of mouse genes to date, published in Nature Genetics.

The researchers collected data from over 27,000 mice, and for each mutant mouse, they made 413 measurements — ranging from body weight to metabolic and behavioural traits. This helped the team identify phenotypes associated with 159 out of 179 genes that previously didn’t have a known function. 

For example, a mutation of one such gene, Elmod1, which is expressed in the brain, was found to be associated with reduced fasting blood sugar, lower body weight, and behavioural defects such as reduced startle response and increased activity.


de Angelis, M. H. et al. Analysis of mammalian gene function through broad-based phenotypic screens across a consortium of mouse clinics. Nature Genetics (2015).