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Inbred Strains of Mice and their Characteristics

This is an up-date of the last listing published in Mouse Genome 94(3) (September 1996). A total of 478 strains are listed, though many of these must be extinct. If anyone knows of such extinct strains, please let me know. In a few cases data on extinct strains is given but the fact that it is extinct is noted. About 150 new references have been quoted.

Note that the strains are listed in order according to the ASCII code, with strains having a numerical designation such as 129 listed before strains with an alphabetic designation such as A. Special characters such as a slash (/) also come before alphabetic ones.

Some of the more widely used strains have become divided into substrains among which there are detectable genetic differences. This is likely to accelerate as we learn more about such differences using the very wide range of genetic markers which are now available. Two extensive studies on the 129 strain have recently been published, and the nomenclature of this family will be revised in due course. A similar study on the SL family has also clarified the relationships between existing substrains.

Many of the strains are related, having come from the same outbred colony, or having some other form of common ancestry. Other strains are derived directly from wild mice. There is increasing evidence that laboratory mice have been developed with contributions from more than one species/subspecies of wild mouse. For example, some strains carry the Mus musculus domesticus Y-chromosome, while others have the M.m. musculus type. Thus, Nishioka (1987) found the following: \par

M.m. musculus type

A/J, AEJ/Gn, AU/SsJ, BALB/cJ, BDP/J, BXSB/MpJ, CBA/J, CE/J, C3H/HeJ, C57BL/6J, DA/HuSn, DBA/2J, HRS/J, HTG/Go,, I/Ln, LP/J, NZB/BlN, NZW/Lac, P/J, RIIIS/J, SB/Le, SEA/Gn, SEC/1ReJ, SF/Cam, SK/Cam, SM/J, WB/ReJ, WC/ReJ, YBR/Ei, 129/J. \par

M.m. domesticus type

AKR/J, BUB/J, MA/MyJ, PL/J, RF/J, SJL/J, ST/bJ, SWR/J, SWV. \par


The number of generations of full-sib mating is given for each strain, but this should be regarded as an approximate figure, as it varies considerably between colonies, and it is very difficult to keep it updated. In any case it is doubtful whether the exact figure has much significance once 30-40 generations have been completed, except possibly in studies of substrain differentiation.

In the case of quantitative characteristics strains have been ranked, and approximately the top and bottom quarter of the strains have been ranked as `high' and `low' ,respectively. Thus, `low intra strain aggression (13/14)' indicates that in a study of intra-strain aggression the strain in question ranked thirteenth out of fourteen strains being tested. These strain rankings should be treated with some caution, as they depend on exactly which strains happened to be chosen for the study, and the rankings could be altered by environmental influences. In some cases it will be noted that studies by different workers are contradictory. In the case of qualitative characteristics a `cf'. (compare) precedes the number responding out of the number tested. Thus good immune response to X antigen (cf. 4/8) means that the strain was one of four responders out of eight tested. Several papers describe pairs of strains which are known from previous work to differ. In this case the paper is quoted and the contrasting strain is noted in parenthases.

Where a substantial amount of information is available for a given strain this has been classified into `Behaviour', `Life-span and spontaneous disease', etc. The heading `Drugs' refers to response to any xenobiotic such as chemicals and drugs, and also includes response to irradiation. \par

In compilations of this sort, substrain differences present a problem. Where there are major substrains of an inbred strain, an attempt has been made to show which one was involved in each study. However, references have been given, and where necessary the original article should be consulted. \par

I would appreciate it if people could send me reprints and other information which describe strain characteristics which are not listed here, and bring any inaccuracies or omissions to my attention. The previous listing is already available on-line in a searchable database which can be accessed via the Jackson Laboratory (see contribution by Dr. Janan Eppig in this issue). This updated version will be put on line as soon as possible. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the Jackson Laboratory for providing this service. \par

Updated 9 Apr. 1998
Michael FW Festing
MRC Toxicology Unit, Hodgkin Building,
University of Leicester, UK

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