Animal transgenesis: an overview
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- Gama Sosa, M.A., De Gasperi, R. & Elder, G.A. Brain Struct Funct (2010) 214: 91. doi:10.1007/s00429-009-0230-8
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Transgenic animals are extensively used to study in vivo gene function as well as to model human diseases. The technology for producing transgenic animals exists for a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species. The mouse is the most utilized organism for research in neurodegenerative diseases. The most commonly used techniques for producing transgenic mice involves either the pronuclear injection of transgenes into fertilized oocytes or embryonic stem cell-mediated gene targeting. Embryonic stem cell technology has been most often used to produce null mutants (gene knockouts) but may also be used to introduce subtle genetic modifications down to the level of making single nucleotide changes in endogenous mouse genes. Methods are also available for inducing conditional gene knockouts as well as inducible control of transgene expression. Here, we review the main strategies for introducing genetic modifications into the mouse, as well as in other vertebrate and invertebrate species. We also review a number of recent methodologies for the production of transgenic animals including retrovirus-mediated gene transfer, RNAi-mediated gene knockdown and somatic cell mutagenesis combined with nuclear transfer, methods that may be more broadly applicable to species where both pronuclear injection and ES cell technology have proven less practical.