What do you get when you cross a cow with a mouse? No, it’s no joke! Researchers have genetically engineered cattle by inserting a mouse gene to create tuberculosis resistance!
Transgenic mice – mice with genetic material added or subtracted – have been a staple of biomedical research for years. The technology of gene insertion and deletion is now being used to help other species. In cattle, tuberculosis can have devastating effects on a herd’s health. Researchers in China have used transgenic technology to create transgenic cattle by inserting a mouse nuclear body protein gene, SP110 into fetal calves’ embryos.
The researchers chose that specific mouse gene, SP110, because it has a known innate immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is a cousin to M. bovis which causes tuberculosis in cattle. And it worked! Transgenic cattle exposed to M. bovis either did not contract the disease or had a reduced number of bacteria and lesions than control animals. And – the tuberculosis resistance was passed to the next generation.
This is truly exciting news in the search for ways to control and prevent tuberculosis in cattle!