Guidelines for the production and nomenclature of transgenic rodents

There has been a substantial increase in the use of transgenic rodents in recent years. One reason for this is that the genomes of man, mouse and rat have now been completely sequenced and this has stimulated the development of models for investigating the functional roles of newly discovered genes and prompted basic studies of gene function and regulation. Some mutant mice and rats also serve as models for the study of genetically determined human and animal diseases. In comparison with standard strains of laboratory animals, several additional matters need to be addressed before the development and maintenance of a transgenic mouse or rat strain is contemplated. Not only is it important to thoroughly understand the general biology, genetics and methods appropriate for breeding transgenic rodents, but also to assess the phenotypic changes likely to arise from the genetic modification. In particular, careful consideration needs to be given to special needs for housing, husbandry, handling and the maintenance of records. In this context, it is essential to use an effective, standardized nomenclature system. Rigorous identification of genetically engineered rodent lines is indispensable if investigators are to understand and accurately interpret findings in the animals they are working with. It enables precise communication of scientific findings arising from research involving transgenic animals. Additionally, it facilitates incorporation of information concerning the animal model into databases and its subsequent retrieval to avoid unnecessary repetitions of models already available. In making the following recommendations we wish to raise awareness of specific features of production and of current nomenclature systems used for transgenic rodents. In addition, we highlight the limitations of current nomenclature systems in order to encourage the development of a more robust classification scheme.

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