Embryonic and Neonatal Phenotyping of Genetically Engineered Mice
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Considerable progress has been made in adapting existing and developing new technologies to enable increasingly detailed phenotypic information to be obtained in embryonic and newborn mice. Sophisticated methods for imaging mouse embryos and newborns are available and include ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for in vivo imaging, and MRI, vascular corrosion casts, micro-computed tomography, and optical projection tomography (OPT) for postmortem imaging. In addition, Doppler and M-mode ultrasound are useful noninvasive tools to monitor cardiac and vascular hemodynamics in vivo in embryos and newborns. The developmental stage of the animals being phenotyped is an important consideration when selecting the appropriate technique for anesthesia or euthanasia and for labeling animals in longitudinal studies. Study design also needs to control for possible differences between inter- and intralitter variability, and for possible long-term developmental effects caused by anesthesia and/or procedures. Noninvasive or minimally invasive intravenous or intracardiac injections or blood sampling, and arterial pressure and electrocardiography (ECG) measurements are feasible in newborns. Whereas microinjection techniques are available for embryos as young as 6.5 days of gestation, further advances are required to enable minimally invasive fluid or tissue samples, or blood pressure or ECG measurements, to be obtained from mouse embryos in utero. The growing repertoire of techniques available for phenotyping mouse embryos and newborns promises to accelerate knowledge gained from studies using genetically engineered mice to understand molecular regulation of morphogenesis and the etiology of congenital diseases.
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