• germline mutation;
  • microsatellite;
  • mouse;
  • ionizing radiation


Large tandem repeat DNA loci such as expanded simple tandem repeats and minisatellites are efficient markers for detecting germline mutations; however, mutation detection using these loci can be imprecise and difficult to standardize across labs. Short-tandem repeats, such as microsatellites, offer more precise and high-throughput mutation detection, but germline mutation induction at these loci has not yet been studied in model organisms such as mice. In this study, we used microsatellite enrichment and large-scale DNA sequencing of several closely related inbred mouse lines to identify a panel of 19 polymorphic microsatellites with potentially high spontaneous mutation frequencies. We used this panel and four additional loci from other sources to quantify spontaneous mutation frequency in pedigrees of outbred Swiss-Webster mice. In addition, we also examined mutation induction in families in which sires were treated with acute doses of either 0.5 Gy or 1.0 Gy gamma-irradiation to spermatogonial stem cells. Per locus mutation frequencies ranged from 0 to 5.03 × 10−3. Considering only the 11 loci with mutations, the mutation frequencies were: control 2.78 × 10−3, 0.5 Gy 4.09 × 10−3, and 1.0 Gy 1.82 × 10−3. There were no statistically significant changes in mutation frequencies among treatment groups. Our study provides the first direct quantification of microsatellite mutation frequency in the mouse germline, but shows no evidence for mutation induction at pre-meiotic male germ cells following acute gamma-irradiation. Further work using the panel is needed to examine mutation induction at different doses of radiation, exposure durations, and stages during spermatogenesis. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.