Controlled insertional mutagenesis using a LINE-1 (ORFeus) gene-trap mouse model

Kathryn A. O'Donnell, Wenfeng An, Christina T. Schrum, Sarah J. Wheelan, Jef D. Boeke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A codon-optimized mouse LINE-1 element, ORFeus, exhibits dramatically higher retrotransposition frequencies compared with its native long interspersed element 1 counterpart. To establish a retrotransposon-mediated mouse model with regulatable and potent mutagenic capabilities, we generated a tetracycline (tet)- regulated ORFeus element harboring a gene-trap cassette. Here, we show that mice expressing tet-ORFeus broadly exhibit robust retrotransposition in somatic tissues when treated with doxycycline. Consistent with a significant mutagenic burden, we observed a reduced number of double transgenic animals when treated with high-level doxycycline during embryogenesis. Transgene induction in skin resulted in a white spotting phenotype due to somatic ORFeus-mediated mutations that likely disrupt melanocyte development. The data suggest a high level of transposition in melanocyte precursors and consequent mutation of genes important for melanoblast proliferation, differentiation, or migration. These findings reveal the utility of a retrotransposon-based mutagenesis system as an alternative to existing DNA transposon systems. Moreover, breeding these mice to different tet-transactivator/reversible tettransactivator lines supports broad functionality of tet-ORFeus because of the potential for dose-dependent, tissue-specific, and temporal-specific mutagenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2706-E2713
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 16 2013


  • L1 retrotransposon
  • Mus Musculus
  • Tet-Promoter
  • White-Spotted Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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