Transgenic Research

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 563–567 | Cite as

Engineering Disease Resistant Cattle

  • David M. Donovan
  • David E. Kerr
  • Robert J. WallEmail author


Mastitis is a disease of the mammary gland caused by pathogens that find their way into the lumen of the gland through the teat canal. Mammary gland infections cost the US dairy industry approximately $2 billion dollars annually and have a similar impact in Europe. In the absence of effective treatments or breeding strategies to enhance mastitis resistance, we have created transgenic dairy cows that express lysostaphin in their mammary epithelium and secrete the antimicrobial peptide into milk. Staphylococcus aureus, a major mastitis pathogen, is exquisitely sensitive to lysostaphin. The transgenic cattle resist S. aureus mammary gland challenges, and their milk kills the bacteria, in a dose dependent manner. This first step in protecting cattle against mastitis will be followed by introduction of other genes to deal with potential resistance issues and other mastitis causing organisms. Care will be taken to avoid altering milk’s nutritional and manufacturing properties. Multi-cistronic constructs may be required to achieve our goals as will other strategies possibly involving RNAi and gene targeting technology. This work demonstrates the possibility of using transgenic technology to address disease problems in agriculturally important species.


bovine disease resistance mastitis transgene 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Donovan
    • 1
  • David E. Kerr
    • 2
  • Robert J. Wall
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Biotechnology and Germplasm Laboratory, Agricultural Research ServiceUnited States Department of AgricultureBeltsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Animal SciencesUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

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