Mouse Strain Divergence

Due to naturally occurring genetic drift, an inbred mouse strain will diverge into a genetically distinct substrain if its breeding colony is separated from the parental breeding colony for more than 20 generations of breeding (i.e., 10 generations in the parent colony plus the 10 that simultaneously pass in the sub-colony*).

Whitepaper: Strategies to Minimize Genetic Drift
and Maximize Experimental Reproducibility in Mouse Research

transgenic mouse in hands of lab technicianOur scientific whitepaper explains why genetic drift occurs, how quickly it develops, the impact on research, and ways to alleviate the risk. You are welcome to download the paper in English, French, German, and Spanish. 

This divergence can occur within only a few years. Genetic differences between a parental strain and a substrain accumulate with time and at a rate dependent upon the level of quality control at the facilities housing and breeding the mice. These genetic differences often result in phenotype differences between a parental strain and a substrain. Such differences confound interpretation of experimental results, especially when comparing results to published research using JAX™ Mice strains.

How to Refresh Your Mutant or Transgenic Mouse Strains

black mouseDownload our guide (which includes a handy backcrossing diagram), and learn how to refresh your mice quickly and economically with the Charles River Genetic and Health Status Refresh Pack. 

The Jackson Laboratory's Genetic Stability Programme

GSP logo

The JAX™ patented Genetic Stability Programme (GSP)** effectively prevents cumulative genetic drift, including that caused by copy number variation, in the most popular strains of JAX™ Mice. The GSP programme effectively limits cumulative genetic drift by refreshing The Jackson Laboratory’s foundation stocks with cryopreserved pedigree embryos or gametes approximately every five generations. The programme was initiated in 2003.

  • Read More: The Jackson Laboratory's Patented Genetic Stability Programme

    The Jackson Laboratory’s unique, patented GSP has several components:

    1. An extensive supply of cryopreserved stock for each strain.
    2. Isolated foundation colonies, maintained by inbreeding for only five generations before refreshing with cryo-recovered stock.
    3. Large, independent expansion and production colonies fed directly from pedigreed colonies for distribution through The Jackson Laboratory and through Charles River in Europe and Japan.

    Importantly, the generations between the cryopreserved stocks and mice produced for distribution are kept to a minimum to prevent the accumulation of mutations that result in genetic drift.

* View more information on mouse nomenclature and substrain divergence.

** The Jackson Laboratory’s innovative Genetic Stability Program is covered by 2010 US Patent 7,592,501 and 2012 US patent 8,110,721.

IMPORTANT NOTE: JAX™ Mice strains bred by Charles River are authentic JAX™ Mice and are NOT genetically drifted "J" substrains.