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From technical replicability to reproducibility

The reproducibility of scientific results remains one of the major challenges in 21 century science, especially in our field of phenogenomics. To ensure reproducibility, each scientist must not only be an expert in its own field but master other skills that are sometimes far outside his education. For example, mathematical notions and more particularly statistics have become indispensable for good data analysis. A researcher is also required to use unfamiliar methods and technologies to answer his or her scientific question. He is expected to understand methods limits and biases for protocols that he sometimes uses for the first time.

For many years, PHENOMIN has been committed to publishing or participating in reviews and protocols focusing on technology questions. Some of these papers are based on years of data, thus allowing a great robustness of the proposed protocols.

Today, 15 papers are available in the field of the creation of genetically modified rodents and answer different technological questions:


Droplet Digital PCR or Quantitative PCR for In-Depth Genomic and Functional Validation of Genetically Altered Rodents. Loic Lindner, Pauline Cayrou, Thomas W. Rosahl, Esther Heather Zhou, Marie-Christine Birling, Yann Herault, Guillaume Pavlovic. Methods, Apr 2021, S1046202321000931,


Modeling Down syndrome in animals from the early stage to the 4.0 models and next. Maria Del Mar Muñiz Moreno, Véronique Brault, Marie-Christine Birling, Guillaume Pavlovic, Yann Herault. Prog Brain Res 2020 251:91-143. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2019.08.001. Epub 2019 Oct 22

Variability in Genome Editing Outcomes: Challenges for Research Reproducibility and Clinical Safety. Lydia Teboul, Yann Herault, Sara Wells, Waseem Qasim, Guillaume Pavlovic. Mol Ther 2020 Jun 3;28(6):1422-1431. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2020.03.015.

Reliable and robust droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) and RT-ddPCR protocols for mouse studies. Loic Lindner, Pauline Cayrou, Sylvie Jacquot, Marie-Christine Birling, Yann Herault , Guillaume Pavlovic. Methods 2020 Jul 25;S1046-2023(19)30319-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2020.07.004.

Universal Southern blot protocol with cold or radioactive probes for the validation of alleles obtained by homologous recombination. Gemma F Codner, Valerie Erbs , Jorik Loeffler , Lauren Chessum , Adam Caulder, Nicolas Jullien, Sara Wells , Marie-Christine Birling, Lydia Teboul. Methods 2020 Jun 26;S1046-2023(20)30086-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2020.06.011.

Conditional switching of KIF2A mutation provides new insights into cortical malformation pathogeny. Johan G Gilet, Ekaterina L Ivanova , Daria Trofimova , Gabrielle Rudolf , Hamid Meziane, Loic Broix, Nathalie Drouot , Jeremie Courraud, Valerie Skory , Paul Voulleminot, Maria Osipenko, Nadia Bahi-Buisson, Binnaz Yalcin , Marie-Christine Birling, Maria-Victoria Hinckelmann , Benjamin H Kwok, John S Allingham, Jamel Chelly. Hum Mol Genet 2020 Mar 27;29(5):766-784. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddz316.


Optimizing PCR for Mouse Genotyping: Recommendations for Reliable, Rapid, Cost Effective, Robust and Adaptable to High-Throughput Genotyping Protocol for Any Type of Mutation. Jacquot S, Chartoire N, Piguet F, Hérault Y, Pavlovic G. Curr Protoc Mouse Biol. 2019 Dec;9(4):e65. doi: 10.1002/cpmo.65.


Atp6ap2 ablation in adult mice impairs viability through multiple organ deficiencies. Wendling O, Champy MF, Jaubert S, Pavlovic G, Dubos A, Lindner L, Jacobs H, Mark M, Combe R, Da Cruz IG, Luche H, Mudgett JS, Rosahl T, Sorg T, Malissen M, Reilly PT, Herault Y. Sci Rep 2017 Aug 29;7(1):9618

Modeling human disease in rodents by CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing. Birling MC, Herault Y, Pavlovic G. Mamm Genome. 2017 Jul 4.

Efficient and rapid generation of large genomic variants in rats and mice using CRISMERE. Birling MC, Schaeffer L, André P, Lindner L, Maréchal D, Ayadi A, Sorg T, Pavlovic G, Hérault Y. Sci Rep 2017 Mar 7;7:43331.


Toxic gain of function from mutant FUS protein is crucial to trigger cell autonomous motor neuron loss. Scekic-Zahirovic J, Sendscheid O, El Oussini H, Jambeau M, Sun Y, Mersmann S, Wagner M, Dieterlé S, Sinniger J, Dirrig-Grosch S, Drenner K, Birling MC, Qiu J, Zhou Y, Li H, Fu XD, Rouaux C, Shelkovnikova T, Witting A, Ludolph AC, Kiefer F, Storkebaum E, et al. EMBO J. 2016 May 17;35(10):1077-97.

Aneuploidy screening of embryonic stem cell clones by metaphase karyotyping and droplet digital polymerase chain reaction. Codner GF, Lindner L, Caulder A, Wattenhofer-Donze M, Radage A, Mertz A, Eisenmann B, Mianne J, Evans EP, Beechey CV, Fray MD, Birling MC, Herault Y, Pavlovic G, Teboul L. BMC Cell Biol. 2016 Aug 5;17(1):30.


Blastocyst genotyping for quality control of mouse mutant archives: an ethical and economical approach. Scavizzi F, Ryder E, Newman S, Raspa M, Gleeson D, Wardle-Jones H, Montoliu L, Fernandez A, Dessain ML, Larrigaldie V, Khorshidi Z, Vuolteenaho R, Soininen R, André P, Jacquot S, Hong Y, de Angelis MH, Ramirez-Solis R, Doe B. Transgenic Res. 2015 Oct;24(5):921-7


Generation and Use of Transgenic Mice in Drug Discovery. Pavlovic, G., Brault, V., Sorg, T. and Hérault, Y. Methods And Principles In Medicinal Chemistry: In Vivo Models For Drug Discovery 2014 11 aug ; 62 (part 6):131-148


Highly-efficient, fluorescent, locus directed cre and FlpO deleter mice on a pure C57BL/6N genetic background. Birling MC, Dierich A, Jacquot S, Hérault Y, Pavlovic G. Genesis. 2012 Jun;50(6):482-9.

Reproducibility and safety of your model colonies

Reproducibility with 16S metagenomics in microbiome science

16S rRNA gene studies (amplification of hypervariable regions of the 16S region followed by high-throughput sequencing of this PCR product) are widely performed for bacteria identification and quantification. However, many technical challenges are to be considered to ensure good quality and reproducibility of 16S sequencing and analyses. Sample storage and nucleic acid isolation methods influence the composition of the microbiome in the extracted sample. PCR and sequencing errors, filtering algorithms and methods for data analyses impact the veracity and the taxonomic resolution that can be achieved. Finally all these topics consist in the best practices for improving the reproducibility of 16S experiments.


CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing: challenges for research reproducibility and clinical safety

Genome editing tools (especially CRISPR/Cas9) have already revolutionized biomedical research. But what promise do they hold for clinical studies? Several years of using genome editing in basic research have revealed the unpredictable nature and the uncertainty of the mutations that are obtained. While the bearing of off-target effects is widely known (& sometimes overestimated); on-target effects are less recognized and underestimated. Recent work from animal and cell models demonstrates the importance of extensive validation for the risk assessment of genome editing and its impact on cell integrity.


Improve reproducibility and animal welfare with better genotyping practices

Genotyping is an essential step in animal research as it enables the selection of animals that will be bred to amplify a colony (or euthanised to control the space available in the animal house) and of course used in experimental protocols.

Wrongly, genotyping may be considered as an easy step to carry out, but providing accurate and rapid results can be more difficult than one may think. Few data are published on inconclusive genotyping, but it is believed that the classical error rate is close to 10% in mice. Lloyd et al. showed than more 15% of the lines deposited in public repositories such as the MMRRCs and Jackson Laboratory (JAX) do not carry the mutation specified by the depositor. False negative and false positive genotyping can clearly be considered as one of the many factors influencing pre-clinical studies and basic research contributing to the "reproducibility crisis".

As part of the 3Rs improvements, transgenic rodent genotyping is slowly beginning to move from biopsy sampling to different non-invasive methods, such as buccal or anal swabs, faeces or hair follicles. These protocols are rarely applied by scientists for fear of their reliability and non-repeatability and because of the risk of increased contaminations. We have evaluated different non-invasive sampling methods in order to develop a refined and more importantly a robust method that does not increase genotyping errors.


The 3 topics were presented as a learning series features from Charles River short training session during Spring 2021; you can find on-demand the presentations (each no more than 15 minutes) across six different tracks.

  • The microbiome: G. Pavlovic had presented "Reproducibility with 16S metagenomics"
  • Emerging hot topics: G. Pavlovic had presented "CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing: challenges for research reproducibility and clinical safety" and S. Jacquot had presented  "Improve reproducibility and animal welfare with better genotyping practices"