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Transplantation. 1996 Jan 15;61(1):13-9.

The alpha-1,3-galactosyltransferase knockout mouse. Implications for xenotransplantation.

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Department of Clinical Immunology, St. Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia.


Organ xenografts in discordant combinations such as pig-to-man undergo hyperacute rejection due to the presence of naturally occurring human anti-pig xenoantibodies. The galactose alpha(1,3)-galactose epitope on glycolipids and glycoproteins is the major porcine xenoantigen recognized by these xenoantibodies. This epitope is formed by alpha(1,3)-galactosyltransferase, which is present in all mammals except man, apes, and Old World monkeys. We have generated mice lacking this major xenoantigen by inactivating the alpha(1,3)-galactosyltransferase gene. These mice are viable and have normal organs but develop cataracts. Substantially less xenoantibody from human serum binds to cells and tissues of these mice compared with normal mice. Similarly, there is less activation of human complement on cells from mice lacking the galactose alpha(1,3)-galactose epitope. These mice confirm the importance of the galactose alpha(1,3)-galactose epitope in human xenoreactivity and the logic of continuing efforts to generate pigs that lack this epitope as a source of donor organs.

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