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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Conditional mutagenesis reveals immunological functions of widely expressed genes: activation thresholds, homeostatic mechanisms and disease models.

Evolutionarily conserved, widely expressed genes provide the functional backbone of most, if not all, cell types. Although mouse mutants created by germ line gene inactivation are instrumental in establishing the importance of such genes in vivo, distortion of embryonic development or multiple body systems often preclude detailed functional studies. To overcome this limitation, DNA recombination systems such as Cre/loxP of bacteriophage P1, have been adapted for use in mammalian cells. The mutagenic event is restricted to the tissue or cell type in question leaving other body systems undisturbed. Conditional inactivation of Csk or Socs3, for example, established their key role in the prevention of inappropriate inflammation, while unexpected immunoregulatory activities emerged from studies of the NF-kappaB and AP-1 pathways. Also, cell types responsible for protective or pathogenic TNFalpha production have been identified. Inactivation of immunoregulatory receptors in leukocyte subsets can provide robust experimental systems revealing the conceptual simplicity underlying the modulation of complex signaling pathways during homeostatic responses. As illustrated for TGF-beta receptor, such system-guided approaches can provide a comprehensive picture of the regulatory events driving in vivo phenotype and specific responses of primary cells. This in turn facilitates the identification of novel regulatory mechanisms, targets for therapeutic intervention and prediction of side effects. With the increasing evidence for a role of somatic mutations in a wider range of human diseases, conditional mouse models are set to play a continuing part in the identification of pathogenic mechanisms for restoration of normal cellular processes in diseases including cancer, inflammation and autoimmunity.[1]


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