Genomewide production of multipurpose alleles for the functional analysis of the mouse genome.
A type of retroviral gene trap vectors has been developed that can induce conditional mutations in most genes expressed in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. The vectors rely on directional site-specific recombination systems that can repair and re-induce gene trap mutations when activated in succession. After the gene traps are inserted into the mouse genome, genetic mutations can be produced at a particular time and place in somatic cells. In addition to their conditional features, the vectors create multipurpose alleles amenable to a wide range of post-insertional modifications. Here we have used these directional recombination vectors to assemble the largest library of ES cell lines with conditional mutations in single genes yet assembled, presently totaling 1,000 unique genes. The trapped ES cell lines, which can be ordered from the German Gene Trap Consortium, are freely available to the scientific community.