, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 83-103

Size Matters: Use of YACs, BACs and PACs in Transgenic Animals

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Abstract

In 1993, several groups, working independently, reported the successful generation of transgenic mice with yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) using standard techniques. The transfer of these large fragments of cloned genomic DNA correlated with optimal expression levels of the transgenes, irrespective of their location in the host genome. Thereafter, other groups confirmed the advantages of YAC transgenesis and position-independent and copy number-dependent transgene expression were demonstrated in most cases. The transfer of YACs to the germ line of mice has become popular in many transgenic facilities to guarantee faithful expression of transgenes. This technique was rapidly exported to livestock and soon transgenic rabbits, pigs and other mammals were produced with YACs. Transgenic animals were also produced with bacterial or P1-derived artificial chromosomes (BACs/PACs) with similar success. The use of YACs, BACs and PACs in transgenesis has allowed the discovery of new genes by complementation of mutations, the identification of key regulatory sequences within genomic loci that are crucial for the proper expression of genes and the design of improved animal models of human genetic diseases. Transgenesis with artificial chromosomes has proven useful in a variety of biological, medical and biotechnological applications and is considered a major breakthrough in the generation of transgenic animals. In this report, we will review the recent history of YAC/BAC/PAC-transgenic animals indicating their benefits and the potential problems associated with them. In this new era of genomics, the generation and analysis of transgenic animals carrying artificial chromosome-type transgenes will be fundamental to functionally identify and understand the role of new genes, included within large pieces of genomes, by direct complementation of mutations or by observation of their phenotypic consequences.