1 minute read

Transgenic Animals

Targeted Gene Replacement And "knockouts", Selection Of Gene Targeted Cells, From Transgene To Transgenic Organism

The term "transgenics" refers to the science of inserting a foreign gene into an organism's genome. Scientists do this, creating a "transgenic" organism, to study the function of the introduced gene and to identify genetic elements that determine which tissue and at what stage of an organism's development a gene is normally turned on. Transgenic animals have also been created to produce large quantities of useful proteins and to model human disease.

In the early 1980s Frank Ruddle and his colleagues created the first transgenic animal, a transgenic mouse. Researchers making transgenic mice use a very fine glass needle to inject pieces of DNA into a fertilized mouse egg. They inject the DNA into one of the egg's two pronuclei, before the pronuclei fuse to become the nucleus of the developing embryo's first cell. After the DNA is injected, multiple copies, usually joined end-to-end, insert randomly into the host organism's nuclear DNA.

Multiple injected embryos are then transferred to a surrogate mother mouse to develop to term. Only a small percentage of the embryos survive the injection, and even of those that survive, not all have successfully incorporated the foreign DNA into their genome. Once the mice are born, researchers must identify which mice have the foreign gene in their genome. The animals that contain the added foreign DNA, or transgene are referred to as transgenics.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4