Transgenic Research

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 699–713 | Cite as

On the emerging role of rabbit as human disease model and the instrumental role of novel transgenic tools

  • V. Duranthon
  • N. Beaujean
  • M. Brunner
  • K. E. Odening
  • A. Navarrete Santos
  • I. Kacskovics
  • L. Hiripi
  • E. J. Weinstein
  • Z. Bosze


The laboratory rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is widely used as a model for human diseases, because of its size, which permits non-lethal monitoring of physiological changes and similar disease characteristics. Novel transgenic tools such as, the zinc finger nuclease method and the sleeping beauty transposon mediated or BAC transgenesis were recently adapted to the laboratory rabbit and opened new opportunities in precise tissue and developmental stage specific gene expression/silencing, coupled with increased transgenic efficiencies. Many facets of human development and diseases cannot be investigated in rodents. This is especially true for early prenatal development, its long-lasting effects on health and complex disorders, and some economically important diseases such as atherosclerosis or cardiovascular diseases. The first transgenic rabbits models of arrhythmogenesis mimic human cardiac diseases much better than transgenic mice and hereby underline the importance of non-mouse models. Another emerging field is epigenetic reprogramming and pathogenic mechanisms in diabetic pregnancy, where rabbit models are indispensable. Beyond that rabbit is used for decades as major source of polyclonal antibodies and recently in monoclonal antibody production. Alteration of its genome to increase the efficiency and value of the antibodies by humanization of the immunoglobulin genes, or by increasing the expression of a special receptor (Fc receptor) that augments humoral immune response is a current demand.


Rabbit embryogenesis Maternal diabetes ZFN method Sleeping beauty transgenesis FcRn overexpression Cardiovascular disease model 



This work was supported to ZB and IK by grant IGRABBIT, NKTH OM-00117-120/2008 and by NKTH-ANR PLURABIT to V.D. and ZB. Competing interest: ZB and IK are co-founders, IK is also CEO of ImmunoGenes Ltd., a company specialized in the generation of FcRn transgenic animals for the production of polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies (these animals are in development phase) (


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Duranthon
    • 1
  • N. Beaujean
    • 1
  • M. Brunner
    • 2
  • K. E. Odening
    • 2
  • A. Navarrete Santos
    • 3
  • I. Kacskovics
    • 4
    • 5
  • L. Hiripi
    • 6
  • E. J. Weinstein
    • 7
  • Z. Bosze
    • 6
  1. 1.INRA, UMR 1198 Biologie du Développement et ReproductionJouy en JosasFrance
  2. 2.Innere Medizin IIIUniversitätsklinik FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Faculty of MedicineMartin Luther UniversityHalle (Saale)Germany
  4. 4.ImmunoGenes Ltd.BudakesziHungary
  5. 5.Department of ImmunologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  6. 6.Animal Biotechnology DepartmentAgricultural Biotechnology CenterGödöllőHungary
  7. 7.Sigma Advanced Genetic Engineering LabsSigma-Aldrich BiotechnologySt. LouisUSA

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