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Stem Cells Dev. 2013 May 1. doi: 10.1089/scd.2012.0416. Epub 2013 May 1.

Derivation and genetic modification of embryonic stem cells from disease-model inbred rat strains.

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University of Michigan, Cardiac Surgery, Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States, Medical College of Wisconsin, Human and Molecular Genetics Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States ;


The lack of rat embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and approaches for manipulation of their genomes have restricted the ability to create new genetic models and to explore the function of a single gene in complex diseases in the laboratory rat. The recent breakthrough in isolating germline-competent ESCs from rat and subsequent demonstration of gene knockout has propelled the field forward, but such tools do not yet exist for many disease-model rat strains. Here we derive new ESCs from several commonly used rat models including the Dahl Salt Sensitive (SS), the sequenced Brown Norway (BN), and Fischer (F344) rat and establish the first germline-competent ESCs from a hypertension disease model strain, the Fawn Hooded Hypertensive (FHH) rat. Genetic manipulations including transgenesis mediated by lentivirus, routine homologous recombination, and homologous recombination mediated by zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) were performed effectively in FHH rat ESCs. Our results showed these rat ESC lines, isolated from inner cell masses using mechanical splitting, had germline competency; the Pparg gene locus and homologous genomic region to the mouse Rosa26 locus can be targeted effectively in these rat ESCs. Furthermore, our results also demonstrated that ZFNs increased the efficiency of proper homologous recombination in FHH rat ESCs using targeting vectors with short homology arms. These rat ESC lines and advancements in genetic manipulation pave the way to novel genetic approaches in this valuable biomedical model species and for exploration of complex disease in these strains.


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