Functional annotation of mouse mutations in embryonic stem cells by use of expression profiling.

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Mamm Genome 2004 Jan; 15(1):1-13.


Expression profiling offers a potential high-throughput phenotype screen for mutant mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. We have assessed the ability of expression arrays to distinguish among heterozygous mutant ES cell lines and to accurately reflect the normal function of the mutated genes. Two ES cell lines hemizygous for overlapping regions of mouse Chromosome (Chr) 5 differed substantially from the wildtype parental line and from each other. Expression differences included frequent downregulation of hemizygous genes and downstream effects on genes mapping to other chromosomes. Some genes were affected similarly in each deletion line, consistent with the overlap of the deletions. To determine whether such downstream effects reveal pathways impacted by a mutation, we examined ES cell lines heterozygous for mutations in either of two well-characterized genes. A heterozygous mutation in the gene encoding the cell cycle regulator, cyclin D kinase 4 ( Cdk4), affected expression of many genes involved in cell growth and proliferation. A heterozygous mutation in the ATP binding cassette transporter family A, member 1 ( Abca1) gene, altered genes associated with lipid homeostasis, the cytoskeleton, and vesicle trafficking. Heterozygous Abca1 mutation had similar effects in liver, indicating that ES cell expression profile reflects changes in fundamental processes relevant to mutant gene function in multiple cell types.