Deconstructing Mus gemischus: advances in understanding ancestry, structure, and variation in the genome of the laboratory mouse

Mamm Genome. 2013 Feb;24(1-2):1-20. doi: 10.1007/s00335-012-9441-z. Epub 2012 Dec 9.


The laboratory mouse is an artificial construct with a complex relationship to its natural ancestors. In 2002, the mouse became the first mammalian model organism with a reference genome. Importantly, the mouse genome sequence was assembled from data on a single inbred laboratory strain, C57BL/6. Several large-scale genetic variant discovery efforts have been conducted, resulting in a catalog of tens of millions of SNPs and structural variants. High-density genotyping arrays covering a subset of those variants have been used to produce hundreds of millions of genotypes in laboratory stocks and a small number of wild mice. These landmark resources now enable us to determine relationships among laboratory mice, assign local ancestry at fine scale, resolve important controversies, and identify a new set of challenges-most importantly, the troubling scarcity of genetic data on the very natural populations from which the laboratory mouse was derived. Our aim with this review is to provide the reader with an historical context for the mouse as a model organism and to explain how practical decisions made in the past have influenced both the architecture of the laboratory mouse genome and the design and execution of current large-scale resources. We also provide examples on how the accomplishments of the past decade can be used by researchers to streamline the use of mice in their experiments and correctly interpret results. Finally, we propose future steps that will enable the mouse community to extend its successes in the decade to come.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome*
  • Haplotypes
  • Mice / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide