Genetically modified mouse models have become a key tool in basic and biomedical research. The ability to engineer the mouse genome has greatly transformed biomedical research in the last decade. Crucial for this technology is the ability to control the expression of genes of interest. It is possible to increase or decrease gene expression, or eliminate the expression of a gene completely. Transgenic and gene knockout/knockin technologies have become important experimental tools for assigning functions to genes at the level of whole complexity of organism, creating models of genetic disorders, evaluating effects drugs and toxins, thus helping to answer fundamental issues in basic and applied research.
The Czech Centre for Phenogenomics (CCP) is a large research infrastructure unique in combining genetic engineering capabilities, advanced phenotyping and imaging modalities, specific pathogen free (SPF) animal housing and husbandry, as well as cryopreservation and archiving, all in one central location – at BIOCEV campus. The CCP is one of the three large research infrastructures hosted at the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. This concentration of specialized infrastructure and expertise provides a unique and valuable resource for the biomedical and biotechnology research community.
Through our membership in INFRAFRONTIER and IMPC we participate in a collective global network aiming to comprehensively and systematically analyze the effect of loss of function gene mutations in mice. The goal is to produce a comprehensive ‘encyclopedia‘ of gene function, that will help identify causative factors of human diseases as well as novel targets for therapeutic intervention. Through the adoption of standardized procedures and pipelines, and the usage of quality control measures and cross-validation, our shared goal is to produce high-quality data that will not only function as a scientific reference catalog, but will also enable comprehensive meta-analyses that could uncover otherwise hidden disease relationships and functional interactions. By focusing expertise and resources and coordinating our efforts to avoid redundant work, we will help achieve these goals in a more cost-effective manner.
The CCP has planned for its phenotyping capabilities to accommodate both mouse and rat disease models. Although the mouse remains the most cost-effective choice for comprehensive phenotyping, the rat remains a better model for a number of human conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and behavioral disorders. Through the generation and focused phenotyping of prospective rat models, where gene targets have been identified through the systematic mouse phenotyping effort, we focus our complementary analyses to conditions where the larger size and higher cognitive function of the rat is advantageous for more complex and accurate physiological assessments.