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Genetic Quality Control
Genetic monitoring is an essential part of inbred colony quality control. Several methods of genetic monitoring are available, including biochemical markers, phenotypic analysis, and more recently microsatellite DNA and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis. While each method has its advantages, Harlan Laboratories uses SNP
analysis because of the combination of speed, efficiency and sensitivity at detecting genetic contamination of inbred lines. It should be noted that current available methods of monitoring are relatively insensitive at detection of genetic drift, because they sample only a small portion of the genome.
Prevention of Genetic Contamination
Prevention of genetic contamination due to accidental mismating is the first line of defense for a genetic quality control program. Procedures such as room coat color separation, pest control and exclusion methods are employed to minimize this risk. Animal care technicians are trained to recognize and report phenotypic deviations. Regular monitoring of growth data and production indices that are specific to the model, and detailed production records, pedigrees and cage cards also ensure the consistency of our models.
Harlan Laboratories’ global routine genetic monitoring program consists of collecting tissue samples quarterly from all new pedigreed Foundation Colony breeding cages in non-isolator bred colonies. Tests are conducted on all pedigreed Foundation Colony breeding cages in newly populated isolator bred colonies, and then five (5) new
foundation colony breeder cages annually thereafter. Annual genetic testing is also performed on several outbred and mutant strains on inbred backgrounds to confirm the mutation of interest.
Tissue samples are sent to the Harlan laboratory located at the Bionomics Research and Technology Center (BRTC) in Piscataway, NJ. The Harlan laboratory employs a customized panel of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to evaluate strain differences in both rats and mice. Our routine rat and mouse SNP panels consist of 48 markers. Analysis is performed by utilizing allelic discrimination technology in a fully automated fashion. Our laboratory includes high throughput liquid handling robots that can process up to 500,000 SNPs daily.