DMDD data accessible on new website

27 April 2015

NOWS embryo

The Wellcome Trust-funded research programme 'Deciphering the Mechanisms of Developmental Disorders' (DMDD) which is coordinated by scientists at the Francis Crick Institute has launched its new website. Set up to identify genes required for embryonic development, DMDD's goal is to identify candidate genes responsible for developmental disease, and kick-start study of why these mutations have such profound effects on embryo development and survival.

All data from the programme is being made available through the DMDD website which brings together comprehensive, state-of-the-art 3D imaging, tissue histology and immunocytochemistry, identifying abnormalities in embryo and placental structure for each embryonic lethal line. Interactive tools provide simple but powerful ways to view this data and comprehensive search functions enable researchers to identify lines relevant to their own research.

Almost one-third of all targeted gene knockouts in the mouse result in embryonic or perinatal death. These mutant lines could be of tremendous value to developmental biologists seeking to identify genes that are essential for embryogenesis: if characterised further, they would provide a unique window into the genetic regulation of tissue differentiation, organ formation and embryo morphogenesis. The insights gained from such studies will also shed light on the origins of human developmental disorders.

By using careful and standardised analysis of embryos from embryonic and perinatal lethal lines, the DMDD programme seeks to identify mouse null alleles that mimic aspects of human congenital disease, as well as identifying novel associations between individual genes and the differentiation of individual embryo tissues and structures.

"A key goal of DMDD is to provide new opportunities for studying the underlying molecular pathways that are disrupted in human developmental disorders and act as a catalyst for this vital research. As we accumulate results from more and more mouse mutants, DMDD will provide a novel resource for developmental biologists and clinicians - a database for embryonic development linking gene identity, morphology phenotypes and molecular profiles. Our work complements that of existing clinical genetic programmes such as the Deciphering Developmental Disorders and UK10K projects. Together we are seeking to boost research that will include new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for debilitating, and sometimes lethal, developmental disease."

Tim Mohun, Scientific Manager DMDD


Initiated in 2013, the DMDD programme brings together developmental biologists and clinicians from seven research centres, with leading researchers in many facets of mammalian embryo development. It coordinates its work with similar international efforts through the umbrella of the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium. The DMDD Twitter account provides updates on progress.