, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 52-59

Frequent deletions and sequence aberrations at the transgene junctions of transgenic mice carrying the papillomavirus regulatory and the SV40 TAg gene sequences

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Exogenous DNA microinjected into one-cell mouse zygotes either integrates into the host genome within a short time span, or is rapidly degraded. On integration, a transgene squence is frequently reiterated. In this report, we describe the enzymatic amplification analysis of transgene junctions of 12 transgenic mice carrying different copy numbers of the same transgene with dissimilar ends. The transgene was composed of the regulatory sequence of the type 18 human papillomavirus linked to the TAg gene of the SV40 virus. Nucleotide sequences of 36 of these junctions were also determined. Deletions were found in 33 (91.7%) of the junctions analysed. At the crossover regions, 55.6% contained short overlapping sequences of one to six nucleotides. Insertions of 2–6 extraneous nucleotides were also found in 8.3% of the transgene junctions. Within a 10-nucleotide sequence on both sides of the transgene junctions, topoisomerase I (topo I) cleavage sites, runs of homogeneous purines or pyrimidines, alternating purine-pyrimidine tracks and (A-T)-rich sequences were found frequently. Stringent control experiments were also performed to ascertain that the observations made were not artefacts resulting from the polymerase chain reaction. Our data therefore indicate that damage had occurred quite frequently and extensively in our transgene construct. Such transgene damage may also occur to various extents in mice carrying other transgenes. Primary structure of the nucleotide sequences of the injected DNA seems to influence the process of transgene reiteration and aberration.