[From Nature press release] Understanding the mechanisms regulating brain wiring has until now relied on biochemical purification approaches in vertebrates and genetic approaches in invertebrates to identify molecular clues. This week Marc Tessier-Lavigne of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues present a new "phenotype-based gene-trap" screen in mice for the large-scale identification of genes controlling the formation of the trillions of connections in the mammalian brain. This sort of screen could replace the daunting, expensive and inefficient study of random, chemically induced mutations in mice. The team explain how the method has generated a resource of mouse lines that will hopefully help "elucidate the normal wiring of the mammalian brain."


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