Mutagenesis as an unbiased approach to identify novel contraceptive targets.

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Mol Cell Endocrinol 2006 May; 250(1-2):201-5.


To accommodate diverse personal needs in family planning, diverse contraceptive approaches are desirable. This goal requires identification of new contraceptive targets. Phenotype-driven mutagenesis is an unbiased approach to identify novel genes and functions in reproductive processes. The ReproGenomics Program at The Jackson Laboratory is a United States National Institutes of Health resource for production, identification and distribution of mutant mouse models of infertility that can be used for identification of potential targets for contraception. The strategy of this program is whole genome, random ENU mutagenesis, coupled with a phenotype screen for breeding failure as the only phenotype. A three-generation breeding scheme selects recessive mutations affecting reproductive functions. G3 males and females that fail to reproduce by natural mating to wild-type animals undergo secondary phenotype screens to assess gonad and accessory organ histology, hormone production, gamete production and gamete function in fertilization. The genetic transmission of the infertility trait in each family is confirmed and each mutation is genetically mapped to a defined chromosome region, facilitating identification of candidate genes from sequence and expression databases. Genes essential for fertility in both males and females and acting both meiotically and post-meiotically have been identified by this strategy. Phenotypes include male infertility with normal sperm count, but failure in fertilization of oocytes. Phenotype descriptions of each mutation are posted on the program website, . These unique reproductive mutant mouse resources will lead to new discoveries in andrology (and gynecology) research, as well as reproductive medicine. Dissection of gene function in known and newly discovered reproductive pathways will expand our focus to reveal novel targets for contraception.