History of genetic and animal resources at the jackson laboratory

The Jackson Laboratory has served as a central repository to identify, develop, protect, preserve, and distribute mutant mice and inbred strains for over 50 years. The first inbred strain (DBA; dilute brown nonagouti) was developed by Clarence Cook Little before he founded the laboratory in 1929. Jackson Laboratory scientists shared their inbred strains with other investigators until the level of distribution justified a separate Production and Distribution Department, which was established in the mid-1950s by then Director, Earl L. Green. The first individual research colonies of spontaneous mutants at TJL were established in the 1930s by George D. Snell and Elizabeth S. Russell. In the late 1940s, Margaret Dickie assembled many of these mutants into a single colony and established the Mouse Mutant Stocks Center (MMSC). A second colony consisting primarily of neurological mutants was formed by Earl L. Green in the 1960s. When Eva M. Eicher assumed responsibility for this colony in 1971 and added non-neurological mutants and chromosomal aberrations, it became the Mouse Mutant Gene Resource (MMGR). The MMSC and MMGR were consolidated into the present Mouse Mutant Resource (MMR) in 1983, under the direction of Muriel T. Davisson.4 The Induced Mutant Resource (IMR) was established in September 1992, with John J. Sharp as supervisor.56 Scientific staff members also maintain individual colonies of mutant mice for research purposes. Altogether, TJL holds more than 1200 mutant gene bearing stocks.

George D. Snell conceived of and began developing histocompatibility congenic strains during the 1940s,7 for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1980. Donald W. Bailey conceived of and began developing recombinant inbred strains in 1981.8 The need to protect genetically defined, often unique strains of mice from accidental loss resulted in a program to cryopreserve mouse embryos in 1976. The banking of frozen embryos was begun by Donald W. Bailey and Larry E. Mobraaten in 1978 and continues today under the direction of Dr. Mobraaten.9

New strains are continually being added to TJL's large collection by new strain development (see MMR below) and by importation of strains from outside TJL (see

IMR below). All mice that are imported into TJL are processed through an established importation program, designed to free incoming mouse strains of any pathogens they might carry. The importance of this procedure is demonstrated by the fact that 51% of the mice imported into TJL during the past three years carried pathogens. A large percentage of these infections are attributable to mouse hepatitis virus. All new strains are rederived by hysterectomy or embryo transfer to ensure a high health status and to avoid endangering existing strains. The process is described in the IMR section below.

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