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Frequently Asked Questions

How much experience do you have in generating genetically modified mice?

Since its inception in 1996, the UC Irvine Transgenic Mouse Facility (TMF) has developed and provided services for making, breeding, genotyping, importing, and preserving genetically modified mice. The TMF is a Shared Resource funded in part by the Chao Family NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center Support Grant (P30CA062203) from the National Cancer Institute. 

The TMF provides standard services such as production of transgenic animals via pronuclear microinjection, development of ES cell derived gene-targeted modifications, embryo and sperm cryopreservation and reanimation, and genotyping. We also offer services in targeted transgenesis (at ROSA26 and Col1a1), BAC transgenesis, development of new lines of ES cells, chromosome counting services, single blastomere injection, Southern analysis, and molecular cloning services to develop targeting constructs and BAC transgenes. More recently, the TMF has incorporated Cas9/gRNA based methodology into gene targeting methods. A strength of the TMF is its ability to partner with PI's to develop new methodology for modification and analysis of the mouse. Since its inception in 1996, the TMF has generated hundreds of lines of genetically modified mice.

Do you offer Cas9/ gRNA-mediated targeting in mice?

Yes ! The "Crispr/Cas" system is a powerful technology to make a variety of modifications within the mouse genome including point mutations, gene knock in, or more sophisticated modifications. There are lots of potential ways to use this technology. The TMF has made mice with a variety of genome editing tools. Even if you don't know where to begin, contact Jon Neumann to ask for advice on how this technology can be applied to your project.

What is your success rate in the different services you offer?

Success in production of random integration mice via microinjection of DNA constructs (ranging from small transgenes to BACs) is extremely high (>97% of projects successfully completed). Production of germline transmitting chimeric mice using ES cell clones targeted within the TMF is also very high (>95% of projects successfully completed). Efficiency of sperm cryopreservation, based on ability to reanimate strains using frozen sperm, is extremely high (>98% of projects successfully completed). Due to being introduced relatively recently, efficiency of producing mice via Cas9 targeting is still being determined. To date we have found this varies depending on the type of targeting project. Generation of null alleles via cleavage followed by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) or by repair using a single stranded deoxynucleotide (ssODN) is extremely efficient, as is introduction of small sequence modifications (e.g. loxP sites, missense mutations) via ssODN. Introduction of longer DNA sequences, particularly those with homology to the target sequence, can be accomplished with lower efficiency. We encourage you to contact the TMF Managing Director Jon Neumann to discuss how to optimize success of your specific project.

Who are your clients?

In addition to UCI Investigators, the TMF supports Investigators at other UC campuses, other Universities and commercial entities. Approximately 65% of the services are provided to off campus investigators at academic and commercial institutions throughout the USA (see below for map of previous and current TMF clients). Approved vendor status (green map markers) denotes campuses whose veterinarians have reviewed practices and animal health history within the UCI TMF and who permit importation of genetically modified mice generated in the TMF directly into an Investigator's animal facility without quarantine.

Clients of the UCI TMF within the USA

Do UCI clients receive priority over non-UCI clients?

No. Once a signed Service Request Form (SRF) is received from a client (on or off campus), a project number is immediately assigned - e.g. 15047 would correspond to the 47th project in 2015. Once assigned, projects are processed as efficiently as possible, in order of receipt.

What should I do to have a genetically modified mouse made?
You are requried to have approval to use mice from your institution's Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Once you have this approval, please submit the following to Jon Neumann
  • A signed Service Request Form (please request the latest form from Jon Neumann and return the completed, signed form to him by email, fax, or mail).
  • Any client specific materials required to perform your project - e.g. targeting constructs, BAC DNA, plasmid DNA, ES cell lines. Please contact Jon Neumann and review the relevant service to identify specific requirements for such materials.
  • Documentation showing institutional approval for use of the transgenic animals and for making the recombinant DNA.
  • For non-UC clients, a standard MTA is also required – contact Jon Neumann.
How long does it take to obtain founders from DNA microinjection or chimeric mice from injection of ES cells ?

This can vary and depends on several factors. The minimum turnaround time, from receipt of the DNA or ES cells to transfer or shipment of the first offspring, is about 10 weeks (1 week to prepare DNA for microinjection or perform pathogen testing on ES cells, 2 weeks to get the egg donors and superovulate them, 3 weeks for pups to be born, and another 3-4 weeks before they can be weaned and shipped). It can be longer, depending on how many orders are scheduled ahead of yours. Please note, injections cannot be scheduled until a completed Service Request Form, the necessary documentation, and a suitable DNA prep or pathogen-free ES cells have been received by the TMF.

What should I do to have a targeted mutation mouse made?

Building Targeting Constructs

We have partnered with UC Davis Molecular Constructs Lab (MCL) to offer BAC recombineering service to construct targeting vectors to modify the mouse genome. We provide advice on the strategy to use and UC Davis MCL generates the construct on a fee for service basis. For Cas9/gRNA based targeting, we are currently investigating use of simplified targeting constructs that can be synthesized without conventional molecular cloning. Ask Jon Neumann for more details.

ES cell mediated targeting

We offer all services necessary to introduce a targeting construct into ES cells, select clones, characterize them by Southern blot, expand selected clones for long-term storage, prepare clones for microinjection, and inject ES cells into blastocysts to make chimeric mice. We strongly urge clients to consult with us prior to making targeting constructs and to do a thorough search for mutant mice, ES cells, or targeting vectors that may already be available for their gene of interest. ES cell clones for microinjection should be sent on dry ice to Jon Neumann (they will be stored in liquid nitrogen on arrival). Plan to send at least 2 vials per clone if pathogen testing is necessary.

Cas9/gRNA mediated targeting

We offer advice on design and testing of gRNA sequences as well as design of any DNA construct required to introduce defined sequence changes into the mouse genome. We continue to evaluate novel ways to do this via microinjection of fertilized mouse oocytes. For information on how to apply Cas9/gRNA mediated targeting to your project, please contact Jon Neumann.

Can you make transgenics for investigators who are not part of the UC system?

Yes! We can perform DNA microinjection to make transgenic mice for any outside institution, non-profit or otherwise.

How can I follow the progress of my project?

Jon Neumann is the primary contact for all questions regarding the progress of individual services. Feel free to contact us at any time. Email is the preferred method of communication.

How should I prepare my DNA construct?

The answer depends on what we are going to do with the construct. In all cases, you should first determine that the construct was correctly engineered, e.g., by sequencing, restriction mapping, and/or functional testing.

For transgenes that will be injected into pronuclei of fertilized mouse eggs to produce random integrants, you should do a plasmid prep using the Qiagen Endo-Free Plasmid Maxi Kit to obtain at least 50 micrograms of clean DNA. Digest 50 micrograms with suitable restriction enzyme(s) to release the transgene from the plasmid backbone. Run a small amount of this digest on an agarose gel to check for completion of digestion and presence of the expected bands. If the digest looks good (no extra bands, no degraded DNA), send the remaining reaction mix and the gel picture to us. We will perform the final purification of the transgene DNA fragment. If your construct is a BAC, we can perform DNA purification. We will inject either linearized or circular BAC constructs.

For targeting constructs that will be electroporated into ES cells (other than those targeting the ROSA26 locus), you should purify ~200 micrograms of plasmid DNA using the Qiagen Endo-Free Plasmid Maxi Kit. An aliquot of the prep should be tested to make sure it can be linearized as planned, by restriction digest. We will linearize the remaining DNA and perform the final purification.

For constructs targeting the ROSA26 locus to insert a single-copy transgene, you should purify ~50 micrograms of plasmid DNA using the Qiagen Endo-Free Plasmid Maxi Kit. An aliquot of the prep should be tested to make sure it can be linearized as planned, by restriction digest. We will linearize the remaining DNA and perform the final purification.

How should I test my construct?

The usual methods for testing constructs are as follows: sequencing the DNA, doing in vitro expression (i.e. in cell culture), injecting it into frog oocytes. None of these methods will guarantee that you will get expression of your transgene in the founder mice. However, they can reveal mistakes in design or engineering that prevent expression. One method for testing new promoters is to join them with a reporter gene (e.g., lacZ or GFP) and make "transient" transgenics, i.e., look for expression during gestation. This can cut 4-5 weeks from the normal turnaround time.

What are my chances of getting a transgenic founder?

Usually, extremely good. Although we cannot guarantee expression of the transgene, the standard service does guarantee to produce at least 3 transgenic founders, or a total of 50 pups, whichever comes first. Out of 137 different transgenes injected by us from 2006-2011, only 3 constructs failed to produce at least one founder after we had produced at least 50 pups. Out of 71 constructs injected under the One-Day service during the same time period, 4 failed to produce any founders.

Can you save my mouse strain? I have 3 females that are all more than 12 months old, and one 8 month old male.

If the male carries the mutation of interest, we can harvest sperm from him and attempt to revive the strain through in vitro fertilization, but it is extremely unlikely that the females would yield viable germplasm (even if superovulated). Cloning via somatic cell nuclear transfer and production of induced pluripotent stem cells are two methods that could theroretically be used to revive the strain using tissues from the females, but these methods are not currently offered by the TMF.

I want to import some mice from another institution and the UCI veterinarian told me they would have to be rederived. How does that work?

Rederivation involves harvesting embryos from one set of mice, washing extensively, and transferring the embryos to pseudopregnant foster mothers, followed by testing of the foster mothers' serum. If done correctly, this method is guaranteed to eliminate all mouse pathogens currently excluded from UCI vivaria. Please note that different mouse holding rooms have different criteria for pathogen exclusion. The so-called "barrier" holding rooms exclude Helicobacter and mouse norovirus, but these are not currently excluded from other holding rooms. Mice produced by our rederivation service can be housed in any UCI holding room. Also, please note that mice can be imported in several ways:

  • As live mice.
  • As frozen embryos.
  • As frozen sperm.

The process by which mice are revived from frozen germplasm involves the same procedures as our rederivation service. In the case of frozen sperm, we would first perform IVF to generate fertilized embryos, then follow the usual rederivation process.

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