One of the most important tools at our scientific disposal in understanding mammalian gene function is the laboratory mouse. The scientific community has taken advantage of its fundamental similarity to humans at the genetic level (>95% at the gene level), similar physiology and anatomy, its relative low cost compared to other mammals, and nearly 100 years of genetic study.
There is an extensive toolkit for the manipulation of the mouse genome and the generation of new disease models. After completing the mouse genome sequence, an international consortium was developed, the International Knock-out Mouse Consortium (IKMC) to systematically generate mutant ES cells for every gene in the mouse genome (20,000 plus genes).
The IMPC builds on the efforts of IKMC to produce knockout mice and carry out high-throughput phenotyping of each line in order to determine the function of every gene in the mouse genome. These mice will be preserved in repositories and made available to the scientific community representing a valuable resource for basic scientific research as well as generating new models for human diseases.
The approaches that are being developed build on the efforts of a number of pilot programmes around the world such as the EUMODIC programme and the MGP programme. The European EUMODIC consortium generated and phenotyped 500 mouse strains in a high-throughput fashion. This was completed early in 2012. From 2011/12 onwards the IMPC is continuing the task to generate knockout mice and phenotype the remainder of the 20,000 plus genes in a worldwide coordinated programme.