Determination and analysis of sex ratios in heme oxygenase 1 gene targeted mouse embryos.
Heme oxygenase 1 or Hmox1 enzyme is involved in catalyzing the first and rate-limiting step in heme breakdown reactions. Many studies have reported a partial lethality of Hmox1 knockout mice obtained from heterozygous breeding pairs. Similar results were obtained in our transgenic mice colony and a sex specific bias was observed in the favor of males in the adult mice. Hmox1 independent factors which could have caused this bias were initially analyzed and it was found that those factors were not a reason behind this anomaly. Certain studies involving gene knockout hinted toward a prenatal or neonatal lethality of female knockout mice embryos or pups, respectively. In order to check if this bias was occurring in embryonic stages, that is, either if mutant female embryos were dying or if heterozygous mothers were not carrying embryos to term, we analyzed the sex-ratios in mid- and late-gestational ages (9.5-13.5 dpc and 14.5-18.5 dpc, respectively). Our results did not indicate any significant difference in the sex ratios in embryonic stages; hence, it was concluded that females are not dying in embryonic stages. It can be speculated that these deaths were probably occurring at neonatal age. More studies are required to confirm that the lack of Hmox1 gene products is the sole reason for this female lethality.