Mice have become a preferred model system for bone research because of their genetic and pathophysiological similarities to humans: a relatively short reproductive period, leading to relatively low cost of maintenance and the availability of the entire mouse genome sequence information. The success in producing the first transgenic mouse line that expressed rabbit β-globin protein in mouse erythrocytes three decades ago marked the beginning of the use of genetically engineered mice as model system to study human diseases. Soon afterward the development of cultured pluripotent embryonic stem cells provided the possibility of gene replacement or gene deletion in mice. These technologies have been critical to identify new genes involved in bone development, growth, remodeling, repair, and diseases, but like many other approaches, they have limitations. This review will introduce the approaches that allow the generation of transgenic mice and global or conditional (tissue-specific and inducible) mutant mice. A list of the various promoters used to achieve bone-specific gene deletion or overexpression is included. The limitations of these approaches are discussed, and general guidelines related to the analysis of genetic mouse models are provided.
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