Engineering a mouse balancer chromosome

Nat Genet. 1999 Aug;22(4):375-8. doi: 10.1038/11949.


Balancer chromosomes are genetic reagents that are used in Drosophila melanogaster for stock maintenance and mutagenesis screens. Despite their utility, balancer chromosomes are rarely used in mice because they are difficult to generate using conventional methods. Here we describe the engineering of a mouse balancer chromosome with the Cre-loxP recombination system. The chromosome features a 24-centiMorgan (cM) inversion between Trp53 (also known as p53) and Wnt3 on mouse chromosome 11 that is recessive lethal and dominantly marked with a K14-Agouti transgene. When allelic to a wild-type chromosome, the inversion suppresses crossing over in the inversion interval, accompanied by elevated recombination in the flanking regions. The inversion functions as a balancer chromosome because it can be used to maintain a lethal mutation in the inversion interval as a self-sustaining trans-heterozygous stock. This strategy can be used to generate similar genetic reagents throughout the mouse genome. Engineering of visibly marked inversions and deficiencies is an important step toward functional analyses of the mouse genome and will facilitate large-scale mutagenesis programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Female
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutagenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Recombination, Genetic