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PLoS One. 2015 May 28;10(5):e0127922. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127922. eCollection 2015.

Oviduct-specific expression of human neutrophil defensin 4 in lentivirally generated transgenic chickens.

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State Key laboratory for Agrobiotechnology, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.


The expression of oviduct-specific recombinant proteins in transgenic chickens is a promising technology for the production of therapeutic biologics in eggs. In this study, we constructed a lentiviral vector encoding an expression cassette for human neutrophil defensin 4 (HNP4), a compound that displays high activity against Escherichia coli, and produced transgenic chickens that expressed the recombinant HNP4 protein in egg whites. After the antimicrobial activity of the recombinant HNP4 protein was tested at the cellular level, a 2.8-kb ovalbumin promoter was used to drive HNP4 expression specifically in oviduct tissues. From 669 injected eggs, 218 chickens were successfully hatched. Ten G0 roosters, with semens identified as positive for the transgene, were mated with wild-type hens to generate G1 chickens. From 1,274 total offspring, fifteen G1 transgenic chickens were positive for the transgene, which was confirmed by PCR and Southern blotting. The results of the Southern blotting and genome walking indicated that a single copy of the HNP4 gene was integrated into chromosomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 24 of the chickens. As expected, HNP4 expression was restricted to the oviduct tissues, and the levels of both transcriptional and translational HNP4 expression varied greatly in transgenic chickens with different transgene insertion sites. The amount of HNP4 protein expressed in the eggs of G1 and G2 heterozygous transgenic chickens ranged from 1.65 μg/ml to 10.18 μg/ml. These results indicated that the production of transgenic chickens that expressed HNP4 protein in egg whites was successful.

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