Behavioral and functional analysis of mouse phenotype: SHIRPA, a proposed protocol for comprehensive phenotype assessment

Mamm Genome. 1997 Oct;8(10):711-3. doi: 10.1007/s003359900551.


For an understanding of the aberrant biology seen in mouse mutations and identification of more subtle phenotype variation, there is a need for a full clinical and pathological characterization of the animals. Although there has been some use of sophisticated techniques, the majority of behavioral and functional analyses in mice have been qualitative rather than quantitative in nature. There is, however, no comprehensive routine screening and testing protocol designed to identify and characterize phenotype variation or disorders associated with the mouse genome. We have developed the SHIRPA procedure to characterize the phenotype of mice in three stages. The primary screen utilizes standard methods to provide a behavioral and functional profile by observational assessment. The secondary screen involves a comprehensive behavioral assessment battery and pathological analysis. These protocols provide the framework for a general phenotype assessment that is suitable for a wide range of applications, including the characterization of spontaneous and induced mutants, the analysis of transgenic and gene-targeted phenotypes, and the definition of variation between strains. The tertiary screening stage described is tailored to the assessment of existing or potential models of neurological disease, as well as the assessment of phenotypic variability that may be the result of unknown genetic influences. SHIRPA utilizes standardized protocols for behavioral and functional assessment that provide a sensitive measure for quantifying phenotype expression in the mouse. These paradigms can be refined to test the function of specific neural pathways, which will, in turn, contribute to a greater understanding of neurological disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Genome
  • Mice / genetics
  • Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Neural Pathways
  • Phenotype*
  • Research Design*