The Ts65Dn mouse is trisomic for orthologs of about half the genes on Hsa21. A number of phenotypes in these trisomic mice parallel those in humans with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), including cognitive deficits due to hippocampal malfunction that are sufficiently similar to human that "therapies" developed in Ts65Dn mice are making their way to human clinical trials. However, the impact of the model is limited by availability. Ts65Dn cannot be completely inbred and males are generally considered to be sterile. Females have few, small litters and they exhibit poor care of offspring, frequently abandoning entire litters. Here we report identification and selective breeding of rare fertile males from two working colonies of Ts65Dn mice. Trisomic offspring can be propagated by natural matings or by in vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce large cohorts of closely related siblings. The use of a robust euploid strain as recipients of fertilized embryos in IVF or as the female in natural matings greatly improves husbandry. Extra zygotes cultured to the blastocyst stage were used to create trisomic and euploid embryonic stem (ES) cells from littermates. We developed parameters for cryopreserving sperm from Ts65Dn males and used it to produce trisomic offspring by IVF. Use of cryopreserved sperm provides additional flexibility in the choice of oocyte donors from different genetic backgrounds, facilitating rapid production of complex crosses. This approach greatly increases the power of this important trisomic model to interrogate modifying effects of trisomic or disomic genes that contribute to trisomic phenotypes.
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