Genetic techniques are now available that enable creation of whole animals that have precise genetic modifications of individual genes of interest. Such genetically engineered animals permit investigation of the involvement of putative ethanol targets in the context of whole animal behavioral responses. Because hypotheses concerning putative ethanol targets must ultimately explain ethanol-induced behavioral phenotypes, whole-animal experiments represent the most rigorous test of relevance. In addition to using genetically engineered animals to define the role of specific genes in alcohol action, mutant animal lines are also created to serve as animal models of human diseases (e.g., Angelman Syndrome, Maple Syrup Urine Disease, Ataxia Telangiectasia).
The Homanics Lab has considerable experience producing transgenic animals via pronuclear microinjection, gene targeted animals via homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells, and gene edited animals via direct gene manipulation in zygotes using engineered nucleases (e.g., TALENS, CRISPR/Cas9). In addition to producing animals for use by the Homanics Lab, numerous animals have been produced for collaborators around the world. Currently, the lab also serves as the genetically engineered rodents core for the Integrative Neuroscience Initiative on Alcoholism, a multi-institutional international consortium of alcohol researchers.