Knockout Genetic

Thomas E Willnow, Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin, Germany

Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

The term 'knockout' or 'gene disruption' denotes a technology to introduce precise genetic lesions into the genome of the mouse and to produce an animal model with a predefined genetic defect.

Previously, the isolation of mutant animal models has been solely dependent on screening spontaneously occurring mutants or on random mutagenesis using carcinogens. Recent ground-breaking advances in mouse genetics, however, have greatly facilitated this process. Today, it is possible to introduce specific defects into any mouse gene and to study the consequence of the alteration in vivo. This has been made possible by technological advances in two areas: 1) the ability to introduce defined changes into the mouse genome using homologous recombination, and 2) the capability to reintroduce genetically altered embryonic stem cells into the germline of the mouse, generating mutant mouse strains. In the following, the current status of the knockout technology and its application for studying the immune system will be discussed.

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