DSCAMs are cell adhesion molecules that play several important roles in neurodevelopment. Mouse alleles of Dscam identified to date do not survive on an inbred C57BL/6 background, complicating analysis of DSCAM-dependent developmental processes because of phenotypic variability related to the segregating backgrounds needed for postnatal survival. A novel spontaneous allele of Dscam, hereafter referred to as Dscam²(J), has been identified. This allele contains a four base pair duplication in exon 19, leading to a frameshift and truncation of the open reading frame. Mice homozygous for the Dscam²(J) mutant allele survive into adulthood on the C3H/HeJ background on which the mutation was identified. Using the Dscam²(J) allele, retinal phenotypes that have variable severity on a segregating background were examined. A neurite lamination defect similar to that described in chick was discovered in mice. These results indicate that, in the retina, additional DSCAM-dependent processes can be found by analysis of mutations on different genetic backgrounds.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.