A report from the Mouse Clinical Institute in Illkirch, near Strasbourg. Join the mouse on its journey through the various investigation departments.

The MCI is aptly named. Located in Illkirch, near Strasbourg, the Mouse Clinical Institute* is a research infrastructure of the Institute of Genetics and of Molecular and Cell Biology (IGBMC) exclusively dedicated to the production and characterization of mice. Directed by Yann Hérault since 2010, the 6,200 m2 MCI has departments that are not unlike those found in a hospital for human beings.

  • Pour explorer leurs capacités respiratoires, des souris sont placées dans des enceintes de pléthysmographie, hermétiquement fermées, à l’exception de l’arrivée d’air, contrôlée, celles-ci permettent de mesurer l’influence de la mutation d’un gène sur la fréquence respiratoire des souris (à l’écran).
    To explore their respiratory capacities, the mice are placed in plethysmography chambers. Hermetically sealed, apart from a controlled air supply, they are used to measure the influence of the mutation of a gene on respiratory rate (on the screen).
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Technicien animalier dans une salle d'hébergement des souris.
    What with birth records, identification, sexing, weaning, mating, biopsies/blood samples… Ludovic Wiecrock and the other animal technicians have their work cut out for them in each of the 12 rooms, which can accommodate 1,000 home cages.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Ce tableau de scoring de la douleur rappelle à tous comment la repérer
    In accordance with the 3 Rs of animal research (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), pain is kept to a minimum. This sign, clearly displayed in the corridors, reminds everyone of the signs to look out for.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Après anesthésie avec de l’isofluorane, une souris a été placée sur la table d'examen, avant de passer une échographie cardiaque.
    Following anesthesia with isoflurane, the mouse is shaved and depilatory cream applied to its thorax: it is now ready for its heart ultrasound.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Sur l'écran, un enregistrement montre la fréquence d'une échographie cardiaque, observation d'une variation du volume cardiaque d'une souris.
    Recording of the heart rate using electrodes taped to the mouse's paws, coupled with a heart ultrasound via a probe placed on its thorax, enables Assistant Engineer Émilie Thiebaut to observe the variations in heart volume (on the screen).
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Grrâce à une machine UltraFocus qui calcule la densité osseuse, le chercheur, obtient une radiographie de la souris.
    Using an UltraFocus machine, which can also calculate bone density, Assistant Engineer Chaouki Bam’hamed obtains an X-ray of a mouse’s skeleton. At first glance, there are no macroscopic malformations!
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Pour explorer leurs capacités respiratoires, des souris sont placées dans des enceintes de pléthysmographie, hermétiquement fermées, à l’exception de l’arrivée d’air, contrôlée, celles-ci permettent de mesurer l’influence de la mutation d’un gène sur la fréquence respiratoire des souris (à l’écran).
    To explore their respiratory capacities, the mice are placed in plethysmography chambers. Hermetically sealed, apart from a controlled air supply, they are used to measure the influence of the mutation of a gene on respiratory rate (on the screen).
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Ecran d'ordinateur
    To explore their respiratory capacities, the mice are placed in plethysmography chambers. Hermetically sealed, apart from a controlled air supply, they are used to measure the influence of the mutation of a gene on respiratory rate (on the screen).
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Pour tester ses facultés d’apprentissage et de mémoire, la souris est placée dans un espace triangulaire.
    To test its learning abilities, the mouse is placed in a triangular area. On one side, images appear. According to the study protocol, one of the images is associated with a reward: a drop of sugar water delivered behind it in the feeding area. Recent research has shown that loss of Ptchd1 gene function, implicated in intellectual disability and autism, leads to synaptic dysfunction.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Une souris passe un test de mémoire observée par Fabrice Riet, ingénieur d’étude, Yann Hérault, directeur de l’ICS et Patrick Reilly, responsable du département Phénotypage qui réunit tous les services d’exploration clinique.
    The mouse undergoes a memory test, under the gaze of Fabrice Riet, Research Engineer, Yann Hérault, MCI Director, and Patrick Reilly, Head of the Phenotyping Department – within which are grouped the various clinical investigation departments. After being placed in the presence of two identical objects (dice or marbles) for 10 minutes, the mouse is returned to the platform 24 hours later to be placed in the presence of one of each object. If it has memorized the first object properly, it will spend more time exploring the new one.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François

With its departments of cardiac, respiratory, metabolic, and cognitive investigation, to name but a few… the MCI is an actual clinic for mice! Why? Because the objective of its researchers is to describe every aspect of mice which are either entrusted to them by other (private or public) laboratories or which they themselves produce. And also because, as one of the 18 research institutions that make up the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium (IMPC), the MCI is participating in a major project to explore the consequences of the mutation of each one of 20,000 mouse genes. The MCI's role in the project is to produce, using CRISPR/Cas9 technology (among others), 235 mouse lines – each of which must be studied. It has an additional parallel objective, which is to identify drug candidates using mouse models of various diseases. Join the mouse on its journey through the various investigation departments.

*Inserm/CNRS/Université de Strasbourg Unit 964

Find the report in issue 36 of Science&Santé magazine (in French)