The International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC) is an international effort to identify the function of every gene in the mouse genome. The entire genome of many species has now been published and whole genome sequencing is becoming relatively quick and cheap to complete. Despite these advancements the function of the majority of genes remains unknown.
This is where the IMPC comes in, with the goal of phenotyping all 20,000 or so protein coding mouse genes. To achieve this genes in the mouse genome are switched off, or ‘knocked out’, then standardised physiological tests undertaken across a range of biological systems known as ‘phenotyping tests’. This data is then made freely available to the research community. As well as completing large scale comparative studies, the overall aim of the project is to create a platform for this data where researchers/clinicians can search for genes or diseases of interest to help them understand human health and disease.
Professor Steve Brown, the IMPC chair said “The IMPC is rising to the challenge of generating a complete functional catalogue of the mouse genome. Since its inception in 2011, it has made great strides with a third of the genome already analysed. Moreover, many startling and hitherto undiscovered features of the mammalian genome landscape have been revealed.”
IMPC data can be used in a variety of ways, such as to investigate basic biology mechanisms that can lead to new therapeutic targets or to narrow down a suspected list of genes in patients. In the last few years the IMPC have made major discoveries in parts of the genome that were hitherto unexplored, with new genes discovered relating to areas such as deafness, diabetes, and rare diseases. Summaries of five recent research articles that highlight the diversity of how IMPC data can be used are listed below. These include inferring mammalian gene function, studies on specific human conditions, sex differences in medical research, and even using IMPC data to help in wildlife conservation.
- Advancements in mouse phenomics and its uses for inferring mammalian gene function
- Novel hearing loss genes identified in large study by scientists across the world
- New diabetes genes discovered in latest IMPC research
- Study of unprecedented size reveals how sex ‘blindspot’ could misdirect medical research
- New research suggests laboratory mouse data can help in wildlife conservation
There is currently data for over 6,000 genes, with the total number of phenotype calls over 60,000: Data release 7.0
The IMPC is currently composed of 19 research institutions and 5 national funders from 11 countries: IMPC Members
Phenotyping Protocols for Pipeline: IMPC Pipeline
More information on the objectives and background of the IMPC can be found on our main website: https://www.mousephenotype.org/objectives-and-background