- Top of page
- Forward genetics and the mouse
- Germline mutagenesis in the mouse: practical steps
- Forward genetics and innate immunity
- Forward genetics and adaptive immunity
- Concluding remarks
The last decades have seen numerous approaches being used to decipher biological phenomena, notably the strategies we employ to defend ourselves against pathogenic attacks. From microarrays to genetics to computing technologies, all have supported a better but not yet comprehensive understanding of the pathways regulating our immune system. Limitations are notably exemplified by cases of immune deficiencies in humans that often result in high susceptibility to infections or even death, without the genetic cause being evident. To provide further insight into the mechanisms by which pathogen detection and eradication occur, several in vivo strategies can be used. The current review focuses on one of them, namely germline mutagenesis in the mouse. After describing the main technical aspects of this forward genetic approach, we will discuss particular germline mutants that have all been instrumental in deciphering innate or adaptive immune responses. Mutations in previously uncharacterized genes in the mouse, like Unc93B or Themis, have demonstrated the impartiality of forward genetics and led to the identification of new crucial immunity actors. Some mutants, like PanR1, have informed us on particular protein domains and their specific functions. Finally, certain mutations identified by this non-hypothesis-driven method have revealed previously unknown gene functions, as recently illustrated by memi, which links a particular nucleoside salvage enzyme to cell proliferation and apoptosis.