Publications by authors named "Heather Cater"

21 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Mouse mutant phenotyping at scale reveals novel genes controlling bone mineral density.

PLoS Genet 2020 Dec 28;16(12):e1009190. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

German Mouse Clinic, Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health GmbH, Neuherberg, Germany.

The genetic landscape of diseases associated with changes in bone mineral density (BMD), such as osteoporosis, is only partially understood. Here, we explored data from 3,823 mutant mouse strains for BMD, a measure that is frequently altered in a range of bone pathologies, including osteoporosis. A total of 200 genes were found to significantly affect BMD. This pool of BMD genes comprised 141 genes with previously unknown functions in bone biology and was complementary to pools derived from recent human studies. Nineteen of the 141 genes also caused skeletal abnormalities. Examination of the BMD genes in osteoclasts and osteoblasts underscored BMD pathways, including vesicle transport, in these cells and together with in silico bone turnover studies resulted in the prioritization of candidate genes for further investigation. Overall, the results add novel pathophysiological and molecular insight into bone health and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1009190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7822523PMC
December 2020

Human and mouse essentiality screens as a resource for disease gene discovery.

Nat Commun 2020 01 31;11(1):655. Epub 2020 Jan 31.

Clinical Pharmacology, William Harvey Research Institute, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, EC1M 6BQ, UK.

The identification of causal variants in sequencing studies remains a considerable challenge that can be partially addressed by new gene-specific knowledge. Here, we integrate measures of how essential a gene is to supporting life, as inferred from viability and phenotyping screens performed on knockout mice by the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium and essentiality screens carried out on human cell lines. We propose a cross-species gene classification across the Full Spectrum of Intolerance to Loss-of-function (FUSIL) and demonstrate that genes in five mutually exclusive FUSIL categories have differing biological properties. Most notably, Mendelian disease genes, particularly those associated with developmental disorders, are highly overrepresented among genes non-essential for cell survival but required for organism development. After screening developmental disorder cases from three independent disease sequencing consortia, we identify potentially pathogenic variants in genes not previously associated with rare diseases. We therefore propose FUSIL as an efficient approach for disease gene discovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-14284-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994715PMC
January 2020

A refinement to the formalin test in mice.

F1000Res 2019 20;8:891. Epub 2019 Jun 20.

Neurorestoration Group, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King's College London SE1 1UL, London, UK.

The constant refinement of tests used in animal research is crucial for the scientific community. This is particularly true for the field of pain research, where ethical standards are notably sensitive. The formalin test is widely used in pain research and some of its mechanisms resemble those underlying clinical pain in humans. Immediately upon injection, formalin triggers two waves (an early and a late phase) of strong, nociceptive behaviour, characterised by licking, biting, lifting and shaking the injected paw of the animal. Although well characterised at the behaviour level, since its proposal over four decades ago, there has not been any significant refinement to the formalin test, especially those combining minimisation of animal distress and preservation of behavioural outcomes of the test.  Here, we propose a modified and improved method for the formalin test. We show that anaesthetising the animal with the inhalable anaesthetic sevoflurane at the time of the injection can produce reliable, robust and reproducible results whilst animal distress during the initial phase is reduced. Importantly, our results were validated by pharmacological suppression of the behaviour during the late phase of the test with gabapentin, the anaesthetic showing no interference with the drug. In addition, we demonstrate that this is also a useful method to screen for changes in pain behaviour in response to formalin in transgenic lines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.18338.2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6707399PMC
June 2020

Erratum: Author Correction: Identification of genes required for eye development by high-throughput screening of mouse knockouts.

Commun Biol 2019 7;2:97. Epub 2019 Mar 7.

Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Science, School of Medicine, U.C. Davis, Sacramento, CA, 95817, USA.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1038/s42003-018-0226-0.].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-019-0349-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6405960PMC
March 2019

Identification of genes required for eye development by high-throughput screening of mouse knockouts.

Commun Biol 2018 21;1:236. Epub 2018 Dec 21.

Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Science, School of Medicine, U.C. Davis, Sacramento, CA, 95817, USA.

Despite advances in next generation sequencing technologies, determining the genetic basis of ocular disease remains a major challenge due to the limited access and prohibitive cost of human forward genetics. Thus, less than 4,000 genes currently have available phenotype information for any organ system. Here we report the ophthalmic findings from the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium, a large-scale functional genetic screen with the goal of generating and phenotyping a null mutant for every mouse gene. Of 4364 genes evaluated, 347 were identified to influence ocular phenotypes, 75% of which are entirely novel in ocular pathology. This discovery greatly increases the current number of genes known to contribute to ophthalmic disease, and it is likely that many of the genes will subsequently prove to be important in human ocular development and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-018-0226-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6303268PMC
December 2018

A Wars2 Mutant Mouse Model Displays OXPHOS Deficiencies and Activation of Tissue-Specific Stress Response Pathways.

Cell Rep 2018 12;25(12):3315-3328.e6

MRC Harwell Institute, Mammalian Genetics Unit and Mary Lyon Centre, Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire OX11 0RD, UK. Electronic address:

Mutations in genes essential for mitochondrial function have pleiotropic effects. The mechanisms underlying these traits yield insights into metabolic homeostasis and potential therapies. Here we report the characterization of a mouse model harboring a mutation in the tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase 2 (Wars2) gene, encoding the mitochondrial-localized WARS2 protein. This hypomorphic allele causes progressive tissue-specific pathologies, including hearing loss, reduced adiposity, adipose tissue dysfunction, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. We demonstrate the tissue heterogeneity arises as a result of variable activation of the integrated stress response (ISR) pathway and the ability of certain tissues to respond to impaired mitochondrial translation. Many of the systemic metabolic effects are likely mediated through elevated fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) following activation of the ISR in certain tissues. These findings demonstrate the potential pleiotropy associated with Wars2 mutations in patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.11.080DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315286PMC
December 2018

Analysis of motor dysfunction in Down Syndrome reveals motor neuron degeneration.

PLoS Genet 2018 05 10;14(5):e1007383. Epub 2018 May 10.

The Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom.

Down Syndrome (DS) is caused by trisomy of chromosome 21 (Hsa21) and results in a spectrum of phenotypes including learning and memory deficits, and motor dysfunction. It has been hypothesized that an additional copy of a few Hsa21 dosage-sensitive genes causes these phenotypes, but this has been challenged by observations that aneuploidy can cause phenotypes by the mass action of large numbers of genes, with undetectable contributions from individual sequences. The motor abnormalities in DS are relatively understudied-the identity of causative dosage-sensitive genes and the mechanism underpinning the phenotypes are unknown. Using a panel of mouse strains with duplications of regions of mouse chromosomes orthologous to Hsa21 we show that increased dosage of small numbers of genes causes locomotor dysfunction and, moreover, that the Dyrk1a gene is required in three copies to cause the phenotype. Furthermore, we show for the first time a new DS phenotype: loss of motor neurons both in mouse models and, importantly, in humans with DS, that may contribute to locomotor dysfunction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1007383DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963810PMC
May 2018

FTO demethylase activity is essential for normal bone growth and bone mineralization in mice.

Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis 2018 Mar 2;1864(3):843-850. Epub 2017 Dec 2.

Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2017.11.027DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5798602PMC
March 2018

A large scale hearing loss screen reveals an extensive unexplored genetic landscape for auditory dysfunction.

Nat Commun 2017 10 12;8(1):886. Epub 2017 Oct 12.

Medical Research Council Harwell Institute (Mammalian Genetics Unit and Mary Lyon Centre), Harwell, Oxfordshire, OX11 0RD, UK.

The developmental and physiological complexity of the auditory system is likely reflected in the underlying set of genes involved in auditory function. In humans, over 150 non-syndromic loci have been identified, and there are more than 400 human genetic syndromes with a hearing loss component. Over 100 non-syndromic hearing loss genes have been identified in mouse and human, but we remain ignorant of the full extent of the genetic landscape involved in auditory dysfunction. As part of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium, we undertook a hearing loss screen in a cohort of 3006 mouse knockout strains. In total, we identify 67 candidate hearing loss genes. We detect known hearing loss genes, but the vast majority, 52, of the candidate genes were novel. Our analysis reveals a large and unexplored genetic landscape involved with auditory function.The full extent of the genetic basis for hearing impairment is unknown. Here, as part of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium, the authors perform a hearing loss screen in 3006 mouse knockout strains and identify 52 new candidate genes for genetic hearing loss.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-00595-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5638796PMC
October 2017

A scoring system for the evaluation of the mutated -derived retinal lesions in C57BL/6N mice.

F1000Res 2017 31;6:404. Epub 2017 Mar 31.

Mary Lyon Centre, Harwell Campus, MRC Harwell Institute, Oxfordshire, OX11 0RD, UK.

As part of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) programme, the MRC Harwell is conducting a large eye morphology phenotyping screen on genetically modified mice compared to the baseline phenotype observed in the background strain of C57BL/6NTac. The C57BL/6NTac strain is known to carry a spontaneous mutation in the gene that causes retinal degeneration characterized by the presence of white spots (flecks) in the fundus. These flecks potentially represent a confounding factor, masking similar retinal phenotype abnormalities that may be detected in mutants. Therefore we investigated the frequency, position and extent of the flecks in a large population of C57BL/6NTac mice to provide the basis for evaluating the presence of flecks in mutant mice with the same genetic background. We found that in our facility males were more severely affected than females and that in both males and females the most common localisation of the flecks was in the inferior hemicycle of the fundus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.11252.1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5580417PMC
March 2017

Assessing mouse behaviour throughout the light/dark cycle using automated in-cage analysis tools.

J Neurosci Methods 2018 04 26;300:37-47. Epub 2017 Apr 26.

Mammalian Genetics Unit, MRC Harwell Institute, Harwell Science Campus, Oxfordshire, UK. Electronic address:

An important factor in reducing variability in mouse test outcomes has been to develop assays that can be used for continuous automated home cage assessment. Our experience has shown that this has been most evidenced in long-term assessment of wheel-running activity in mice. Historically, wheel-running in mice and other rodents have been used as a robust assay to determine, with precision, the inherent period of circadian rhythms in mice. Furthermore, this assay has been instrumental in dissecting the molecular genetic basis of mammalian circadian rhythms. In teasing out the elements of this test that have determined its robustness - automated assessment of an unforced behaviour in the home cage over long time intervals - we and others have been investigating whether similar test apparatus could be used to accurately discriminate differences in distinct behavioural parameters in mice. Firstly, using these systems, we explored behaviours in a number of mouse inbred strains to determine whether we could extract biologically meaningful differences. Secondly, we tested a number of relevant mutant lines to determine how discriminative these parameters were. Our findings show that, when compared to conventional out-of-cage phenotyping, a far deeper understanding of mouse mutant phenotype can be established by monitoring behaviour in the home cage over one or more light:dark cycles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.04.014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5909039PMC
April 2018

A SLM2 Feedback Pathway Controls Cortical Network Activity and Mouse Behavior.

Cell Rep 2016 12;17(12):3269-3280

Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3BZ, UK. Electronic address:

The brain is made up of trillions of synaptic connections that together form neural networks needed for normal brain function and behavior. SLM2 is a member of a conserved family of RNA binding proteins, including Sam68 and SLM1, that control splicing of Neurexin1-3 pre-mRNAs. Whether SLM2 affects neural network activity is unknown. Here, we find that SLM2 levels are maintained by a homeostatic feedback control pathway that predates the divergence of SLM2 and Sam68. SLM2 also controls the splicing of Tomosyn2, LysoPLD/ATX, Dgkb, Kif21a, and Cask, each of which are important for synapse function. Cortical neural network activity dependent on synaptic connections between SLM2-expressing-pyramidal neurons and interneurons is decreased in Slm2-null mice. Additionally, these mice are anxious and have a decreased ability to recognize novel objects. Our data reveal a pathway of SLM2 homeostatic auto-regulation controlling brain network activity and behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5199341PMC
December 2016

Exploring the Lean Phenotype of Glutathione-Depleted Mice: Thiol, Amino Acid and Fatty Acid Profiles.

PLoS One 2016 27;11(10):e0163214. Epub 2016 Oct 27.

Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Background: Although reduced glutathione (rGSH) is decreased in obese mice and humans, block of GSH synthesis by buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) results in a lean, insulin-sensitive phenotype. Data is lacking about the effect of BSO on GSH precursors, cysteine and glutamate. Plasma total cysteine (tCys) is positively associated with stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase (SCD) activity and adiposity in humans and animal models.

Objective: To explore the phenotype, amino acid and fatty acid profiles in BSO-treated mice.

Design: Male C3H/HeH mice aged 11 weeks were fed a high-fat diet with or without BSO in drinking water (30 mmol/L) for 8 weeks. Amino acid and fatty acid changes were assessed, as well as food consumption, energy expenditure, locomotor activity, body composition and liver vacuolation (steatosis).

Results: Despite higher food intake, BSO decreased particularly fat mass but also lean mass (both P<0.001), and prevented fatty liver vacuolation. Physical activity increased during the dark phase. BSO decreased plasma free fatty acids and enhanced insulin sensitivity. BSO did not alter liver rGSH, but decreased plasma total GSH (tGSH) and rGSH (by ~70%), and liver tGSH (by 82%). Glutamate accumulated in plasma and liver. Urine excretion of cysteine and its precursors was increased by BSO. tCys, rCys and cystine decreased in plasma (by 23-45%, P<0.001 for all), but were maintained in liver, at the expense of decreased taurine. Free and total plasma concentrations of the SCD products, oleic and palmitoleic acids were decreased (by 27-38%, P <0.001 for all).

Conclusion: Counterintuitively, block of GSH synthesis decreases circulating tCys, raising the question of whether the BSO-induced obesity-resistance is linked to cysteine depletion. Cysteine-supplementation of BSO-treated mice is warranted to dissect the effects of cysteine and GSH depletion on energy metabolism.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0163214PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5082875PMC
June 2017

Analysis of Individual Mouse Activity in Group Housed Animals of Different Inbred Strains using a Novel Automated Home Cage Analysis System.

Front Behav Neurosci 2016 10;10:106. Epub 2016 Jun 10.

Actual Analytics LtdEdinburgh, UK; School of Informatics, University of EdinburghEdinburgh, UK.

Central nervous system disorders such as autism as well as the range of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease are commonly investigated using genetically altered mouse models. The current system for characterizing these mice usually involves removing the animals from their home-cage environment and placing them into novel environments where they undergo a battery of tests measuring a range of behavioral and physical phenotypes. These tests are often only conducted for short periods of times in social isolation. However, human manifestations of such disorders are often characterized by multiple phenotypes, presented over long periods of time and leading to significant social impacts. Here, we have developed a system which will allow the automated monitoring of individual mice housed socially in the cage they are reared and housed in, within established social groups and over long periods of time. We demonstrate that the system accurately reports individual locomotor behavior within the group and that the measurements taken can provide unique insights into the effects of genetic background on individual and group behavior not previously recognized.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901040PMC
July 2016

Analysis of mammalian gene function through broad-based phenotypic screens across a consortium of mouse clinics.

Authors:
Martin Hrabě de Angelis George Nicholson Mohammed Selloum Jacqui White Hugh Morgan Ramiro Ramirez-Solis Tania Sorg Sara Wells Helmut Fuchs Martin Fray David J Adams Niels C Adams Thure Adler Antonio Aguilar-Pimentel Dalila Ali-Hadji Gregory Amann Philippe André Sarah Atkins Aurelie Auburtin Abdel Ayadi Julien Becker Lore Becker Elodie Bedu Raffi Bekeredjian Marie-Christine Birling Andrew Blake Joanna Bottomley Mike Bowl Véronique Brault Dirk H Busch James N Bussell Julia Calzada-Wack Heather Cater Marie-France Champy Philippe Charles Claire Chevalier Francesco Chiani Gemma F Codner Roy Combe Roger Cox Emilie Dalloneau André Dierich Armida Di Fenza Brendan Doe Arnaud Duchon Oliver Eickelberg Chris T Esapa Lahcen El Fertak Tanja Feigel Irina Emelyanova Jeanne Estabel Jack Favor Ann Flenniken Alessia Gambadoro Lilian Garrett Hilary Gates Anna-Karin Gerdin George Gkoutos Simon Greenaway Lisa Glasl Patrice Goetz Isabelle Goncalves Da Cruz Alexander Götz Jochen Graw Alain Guimond Wolfgang Hans Geoff Hicks Sabine M Hölter Heinz Höfler John M Hancock Robert Hoehndorf Tertius Hough Richard Houghton Anja Hurt Boris Ivandic Hughes Jacobs Sylvie Jacquot Nora Jones Natasha A Karp Hugo A Katus Sharon Kitchen Tanja Klein-Rodewald Martin Klingenspor Thomas Klopstock Valerie Lalanne Sophie Leblanc Christoph Lengger Elise le Marchand Tonia Ludwig Aline Lux Colin McKerlie Holger Maier Jean-Louis Mandel Susan Marschall Manuel Mark David G Melvin Hamid Meziane Kateryna Micklich Christophe Mittelhauser Laurent Monassier David Moulaert Stéphanie Muller Beatrix Naton Frauke Neff Patrick M Nolan Lauryl Mj Nutter Markus Ollert Guillaume Pavlovic Natalia S Pellegata Emilie Peter Benoit Petit-Demoulière Amanda Pickard Christine Podrini Paul Potter Laurent Pouilly Oliver Puk David Richardson Stephane Rousseau Leticia Quintanilla-Fend Mohamed M Quwailid Ildiko Racz Birgit Rathkolb Fabrice Riet Janet Rossant Michel Roux Jan Rozman Ed Ryder Jennifer Salisbury Luis Santos Karl-Heinz Schäble Evelyn Schiller Anja Schrewe Holger Schulz Ralf Steinkamp Michelle Simon Michelle Stewart Claudia Stöger Tobias Stöger Minxuan Sun David Sunter Lydia Teboul Isabelle Tilly Glauco P Tocchini-Valentini Monica Tost Irina Treise Laurent Vasseur Emilie Velot Daniela Vogt-Weisenhorn Christelle Wagner Alison Walling Bruno Weber Olivia Wendling Henrik Westerberg Monja Willershäuser Eckhard Wolf Anne Wolter Joe Wood Wolfgang Wurst Ali Önder Yildirim Ramona Zeh Andreas Zimmer Annemarie Zimprich Chris Holmes Karen P Steel Yann Herault Valérie Gailus-Durner Ann-Marie Mallon Steve Dm Brown

Nat Genet 2015 Sep 27;47(9):969-978. Epub 2015 Jul 27.

MRC Harwell, Medical Research Council, Harwell, UK.

The function of the majority of genes in the mouse and human genomes remains unknown. The mouse embryonic stem cell knockout resource provides a basis for the characterization of relationships between genes and phenotypes. The EUMODIC consortium developed and validated robust methodologies for the broad-based phenotyping of knockouts through a pipeline comprising 20 disease-oriented platforms. We developed new statistical methods for pipeline design and data analysis aimed at detecting reproducible phenotypes with high power. We acquired phenotype data from 449 mutant alleles, representing 320 unique genes, of which half had no previous functional annotation. We captured data from over 27,000 mice, finding that 83% of the mutant lines are phenodeviant, with 65% demonstrating pleiotropy. Surprisingly, we found significant differences in phenotype annotation according to zygosity. New phenotypes were uncovered for many genes with previously unknown function, providing a powerful basis for hypothesis generation and further investigation in diverse systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3360DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4564951PMC
September 2015

A comparative phenotypic and genomic analysis of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N mouse strains.

Genome Biol 2013 Jul 31;14(7):R82. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Background: The mouse inbred line C57BL/6J is widely used in mouse genetics and its genome has been incorporated into many genetic reference populations. More recently large initiatives such as the International Knockout Mouse Consortium (IKMC) are using the C57BL/6N mouse strain to generate null alleles for all mouse genes. Hence both strains are now widely used in mouse genetics studies. Here we perform a comprehensive genomic and phenotypic analysis of the two strains to identify differences that may influence their underlying genetic mechanisms.

Results: We undertake genome sequence comparisons of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N to identify SNPs, indels and structural variants, with a focus on identifying all coding variants. We annotate 34 SNPs and 2 indels that distinguish C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N coding sequences, as well as 15 structural variants that overlap a gene. In parallel we assess the comparative phenotypes of the two inbred lines utilizing the EMPReSSslim phenotyping pipeline, a broad based assessment encompassing diverse biological systems. We perform additional secondary phenotyping assessments to explore other phenotype domains and to elaborate phenotype differences identified in the primary assessment. We uncover significant phenotypic differences between the two lines, replicated across multiple centers, in a number of physiological, biochemical and behavioral systems.

Conclusions: Comparison of C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N demonstrates a range of phenotypic differences that have the potential to impact upon penetrance and expressivity of mutational effects in these strains. Moreover, the sequence variants we identify provide a set of candidate genes for the phenotypic differences observed between the two strains.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gb-2013-14-7-r82DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4053787PMC
July 2013

Stretch-induced injury in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures reproduces in vivo post-traumatic neurodegeneration: role of glutamate receptors and voltage-dependent calcium channels.

J Neurochem 2007 Apr 23;101(2):434-47. Epub 2007 Jan 23.

Division of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

The relationship between an initial mechanical event causing brain tissue deformation and delayed neurodegeneration in vivo is complex because of the multiplicity of factors involved. We have used a simplified brain surrogate based on rat hippocampal slices grown on deformable silicone membranes to study stretch-induced traumatic brain injury. Traumatic injury was induced by stretching the culture substrate, and the biological response characterized after 4 days. Morphological abnormalities consistent with traumatic injury in humans were widely observed in injured cultures. Synaptic function was significantly reduced after a severe injury. The N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist MK-801 attenuated neuronal damage, prevented loss of microtubule-associated protein 2 immunoreactivity and attenuated reduction of synaptic function. In contrast, the NMDA receptor antagonists 3-[(R)-2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl]-propyl-1-phosphonic acid (CPP) and GYKI53655, were neuroprotective in a moderate but not a severe injury paradigm. Nifedipine, an L-type voltage-dependent calcium channel antagonist was protective only after a moderate injury, whereas omega-conotoxin attenuated damage following severe injury. These results indicate that the mechanism of damage following stretch injury is complex and varies depending on the severity of the insult. In conclusion, the pharmacological, morphological and electrophysiological responses of organotypic hippocampal slice cultures to stretch injury were similar to those observed in vivo. Our model provides an alternative to animal testing for understanding the mechanisms of post-traumatic delayed cell death and could be used as a high-content screen to discover neuroprotective compounds before advancing to in vivo models.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2006.04379.xDOI Listing
April 2007

A tissue level tolerance criterion for living brain developed with an in vitro model of traumatic mechanical loading.

Stapp Car Crash J 2003 Oct;47:93-105

Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by brain deformations resulting in the pathophysiological activation of cellular cascades which produce delayed cell damage and death. Understanding the consequences of mechanical injuries on living brain tissue continues to be a significant challenge. We have developed a reproducible tissue culture model of TBI which employs organotypic brain slice cultures to study the relationship between mechanical stimuli and the resultant biological response of living brain tissue. The device allows for the independent control of tissue strain (up to 100%) and strain rate (up to 150 s-1) so that tolerance criteria at the tissue level can be developed for the interpretation of computational simulations. The application of texture correlation image analysis algorithms to high speed video of the dynamic deformation allows for the direct calculation of substrate strain and strain rate which was found to be equi-biaxial and independent of radial position. Precisely controlled, mechanical injuries were applied to organotypic hippocampal slice cultures, and resultant cell death was quantified. Cell death was found to be dependent on both strain magnitude and rate and required several days to develop. An immunohistological examination of injured cultures with antibodies to amyloid precursor protein revealed the presence of traumatic axonal injury, suggesting that the model closely replicates in vivo TBI but with advantages gained in vitro. We anticipate that a combined in vitro approach with optical strain mapping will provide a more detailed understanding of the dependence of brain cell injury and death on strain and strain rate.
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October 2003

Temporal development of hippocampal cell death is dependent on tissue strain but not strain rate.

J Biomech 2006 14;39(15):2810-8. Epub 2005 Nov 14.

Division of Clinical Neurosciences, Southampton University, SO16 7PX, UK.

Deformation of brain tissue in response to mechanical loading of the head is the root-cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Even below ultimate failure limits, deformation activates pathophysiological cascades resulting in delayed cell death. Injury response of soft tissues, such as the chest and spinal cord, is dependent on the product of deformation and velocity, a parameter termed the viscous criterion. We set out to test if hippocampal cell death could be predicted by a similar combination of strain and strain rate and if the viscous criterion was valid for hippocampus. Quantitative prediction of the brain's biological response to mechanical stimuli is difficult to achieve in animal models of TBI, so we utilized an in vitro model of TBI based on hippocampal slice cultures. We quantified the temporal development of cell death after precisely controlled deformations for 30 combinations of strain (0.05-0.50) and strain rate (0.1-50s(-1)) relevant to TBI. Loading conditions for a subset of cultures were verified by analysis of high-speed video. Cell death was found to be significantly dependent on time-post injury, on strain magnitude, and to a lesser extent, on anatomical region by a repeated-measures, three-way ANOVA. The responses of the CA1 and CA3 regions of the hippocampus were not statistically different in contrast to some in vivo TBI studies. Surprisingly, cell death was not dependent on strain rate leading us to conclude that the viscous criterion is not a valid predictor for hippocampal tissue injury. Given the large data set and extensive combinations of biomechanical parameters, predictive mathematical functions relating independent variables (strain, region, and time post-injury) to the resultant cell death were defined. These functions can be used as tolerance criteria to equip finite element models of TBI with the added capability to predict biological consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.09.023DOI Listing
February 2007

An in vitro model of traumatic brain injury utilising two-dimensional stretch of organotypic hippocampal slice cultures.

J Neurosci Methods 2006 Jan 10;150(2):192-201. Epub 2005 Aug 10.

Division of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Southampton, Rm 6207, Biomedical Sciences Building, Boldrewood, Bassett Crescent East, Highfield, Southampton SO16 7PX, UK.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by rapid deformation of the brain, resulting in a cascade of pathological events and ultimately neurodegeneration. Understanding how the biomechanics of brain deformation leads to tissue damage remains a considerable challenge. We have developed an in vitro model of TBI utilising organotypic hippocampal slice cultures on deformable silicone membranes, and an injury device, which generates tissue deformation through stretching the silicone substrate. Our injury device controls the biomechanical parameters of the stretch via feedback control, resulting in a reproducible and equi-biaxial deformation stimulus. Organotypic cultures remain well adhered to the membrane during deformation, so that tissue strain is 93 and 86% of the membrane strain in the x- and y-axis, respectively. Cell damage following injury is positively correlated with strain. In conclusion, we have developed a unique in vitro model to study the effects of mechanical stimuli within a complex cellular environment that mimics the in vivo environment. We believe this model could be a powerful tool to study the acute phases of TBI and the induced cell degeneration could provide a good platform for the development of potential therapeutic approaches and may be a useful in vitro alternative to animal models of TBI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2005.06.014DOI Listing
January 2006

Lactate and glucose as energy substrates during, and after, oxygen deprivation in rat hippocampal acute and cultured slices.

J Neurochem 2003 Dec;87(6):1381-90

Clinical Neurosciences, University of Southampton, Southampton Neurology Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline, Harlow, UK.

The effects of raised brain lactate levels on neuronal survival following hypoxia or ischemia is still a source of controversy among basic and clinical scientists. We have sought to address this controversy by studying the effects of glucose and lactate on neuronal survival in acute and cultured hippocampal slices. Following a 1-h hypoxic episode, neuronal survival in cultured hippocampal slices was significantly higher if glucose was present in the medium compared with lactate. However, when the energy substrate during the hypoxic period was glucose and then switched to lactate during the normoxic recovery period, the level of cell damage in the CA1 region of organotypic cultures was significantly improved from 64.3 +/- 2.1 to 74.6 +/- 2.1% compared with cultures receiving glucose during and after hypoxia. Extracellular field potentials recorded from the CA1 region of acute slices were abolished during oxygen deprivation for 20 min, but recovered almost fully to baseline levels with either glucose (82.6 +/- 10.0%) or lactate present in the reperfusion medium (108.1 +/- 8.3%). These results suggest that lactate alone cannot support neuronal survival during oxygen deprivation, but a combination of glucose followed by lactate provides for better neuroprotection than either substrate alone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.02100.xDOI Listing
December 2003