The laboratory mouse is widely recognized as the premier animal model for investigating genetic and cellular systems relevant to human biology and disease. A large arsenal of experimental genetic tools is available for mouse, including unique inbred strains, a complete reference genome (and deep-sequencing data for 17 additional inbred lines), extensive genome variation maps (e.g. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) and technologies for directly and specifically manipulating the mouse genome. An international effort to knockout all mouse genes has produced an ES cell line resource covering over 18 000 genes (1)
and the phenotyping phase has begun (2
). New resources for complex trait mapping including the Collaborative Cross and Diversity Outbred mice are beginning to emerge (3
). In the arena of human genetics and genomics, exome sequencing and the quest for lower and lower cost genome sequences will change again the way we approach computational and experimental methods for understanding the biology of the genome. The mouse is essential for the functional analysis and annotation of rapidly emerging human genomes through comparative genomics.
Realizing the full power of the mouse as a model of human biology depends, in part, on integrating the diverse genetic, genomic and phenotypic data for the mouse in ways that promote experimental and translational research. The central objective of the Mouse Genome Database (MGD) is to provide an integrative and comparative bioinformatics resource that supports the effective translation of information from experimental mouse models to uncover the genetic basis of human diseases. MGD is the highly curated, community model organism database for the laboratory mouse providing web and programmatic access to a complete catalog of mouse genes and genome features integrated with functional annotations, a comprehensive catalog of mutant alleles, phenotype annotations, human disease model annotations, variation data and sequence data. MGD went online via the World Wide Web in 1994, unifying and harmonizing several different databases of genetic map and allele information for the laboratory mouse. MGD has evolved rapidly, re-tooling and enhancing the database to adapt to the multitude of new data types, developing and upgrading data access tools for an increasingly diverse community of researchers, and adopting new database and software technologies as they have emerged and matured.
MGD is the central component of a number of coordinated genome informatics projects that are part of the Mouse Genome Informatics (MGI) consortium (http://www.informatics.jax.org
). Other database resources available through the MGI web portal include the Gene Expression Database (GXD) (5
), the Mouse Tumor Biology Database (6
), the Gene Ontology (GO) project (7)
and the MouseCyc database of biochemical pathways (8
). Taken together, these resources provide a combination of data breadth, depth, integration and quality that exists nowhere else for mouse.