Expression and performance in transgenic pigs.

V. G. Pursel, D. J. Bolt, K. F. Miller, C. A. Pinkert, Robert E Hammer, R. D. Palmiter, R. L. Brinster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Recent research clearly shows that fusion genes can be microinjected into a pronucleus of an ovum and integrate into the pig genome. Animals with such fusion genes are called 'transgenic'. The percentage of injected ova that developed into transgenic pigs varied among experiments from 0.31% to 1.73%. The percentage of transgenic pigs that expressed the fusion gene ranged from 17% to 100%. Eleven different regulatory sequences have been used for fusion genes transferred into pigs. Some of these regulatory sequences directed strong gene expression, but control over level of expression was inadequate. Other regulatory sequences directed weak expression, but imparted only brief spikes of induced expression. The predominant gene coding sequences transferred were for growth-related hormones. Elevation of growth hormone (GH) in expressing transgenic pigs enhanced plasma concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), insulin, and glucose, improved feed efficiency about 15%, and markedly reduced subcutaneous fat compared to nontransgenic siblings. Growth rate was enhanced in some transgenic GH pigs but not in others, possibly due to dietary limits. The 'over-expression' of GH was detrimental to the general health of most transgenic pigs. The most prevalent problems were lethargy, lameness, and gastric ulcers. Gilts that expressed foreign GH genes were anoestrous. Boars that expressed foreign GH genes lacked libido, but their semen was fertile when used by artificial insemination. Six different fusion genes have been transmitted from transgenic founders to progeny. Most of the transgenic pigs that produced progeny transmitted the fusion gene as an autosomal dominant trait to about half of their progeny. Regulatory sequences that will permit full control of gene expression must be developed before the full potential of gene transfer in pigs can be realized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of reproduction and fertility. Supplement
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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