Saturday, 7 September 2013

The spiny mouse

Spiny mouse (Acomys sp.) Wikimedia Commons

Despite its appearance the spiny mouse belongs to a different subfamily than the laboratory mouse. More importantly, it has a different reproductive strategy. Litter size is smaller and much of organ development occurs in utero resulting in the birth of precocial young. Thus it is a better model for late gestation in humans than the mouse, which has large litters and altricial young (see previous post).

At the same time, the laboratory species (Acomys cahirinus) is sufficiently close to mouse and rat that it is possible to develop primers based on the nucleotide sequences of mouse and rat genes (exemplified here). 

A group at Monash University has been using the spiny mouse in studies of fetal programming and sex-dependent effects of glucocorticoids on placental development (here). The spiny mouse holds great promise as a new model for placental and fetal development. Moreover, its potential for studies in a quite different area, tissue regeneration (here), means it is likely to be come more widely available as a laboratory animal.

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