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Free Radic Biol Med. 2001 Oct 15;31(8):1018-30.

Strain-dependent high-level expression of a transgene for manganese superoxide dismutase is associated with growth retardation and decreased fertility.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, 94143, USA.


Manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) is essential in protecting mitochondria against the damaging effects of superoxide radicals (O(2)(*-)), and increased expression of MnSOD protects cells and transgenic animals from various forms of oxidative stress. In addition, increased levels of MnSOD have been shown to slow down cell growth and induce differentiation. To study the effects of high MnSOD levels in vivo, we generated a series of transgenic mice using a mouse genomic sequence under control of the endogenous promoter. Four transgenic lines produced by pronuclear DNA injection exhibited up to 2-fold elevated MnSOD levels in brain and heart. However, using an embryonic stem cell approach, a line having 10-fold elevated MnSOD levels in the brain and 6- to 7-fold elevated levels in the heart and kidney was generated. Surprisingly, the genetic background of this transgenic line influenced the expression level of the transgene, with DBA/2 (D2) and C57BL/6 (B6) mice exhibiting low- and high-level transgene expression, respectively. This difference was the result of an increased transcription rate of the transgene. High-level MnSOD expression in B6 animals was associated with small size, male infertility, and decreased female fertility. These features are absent on the D2 background and indicate that high levels of MnSOD activity may interfere with normal growth and fertility.

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