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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Jul; 87(13): 5178–5182.
PMID: 1695012

High-level expression of biologically active human alpha 1-antitrypsin in the milk of transgenic mice.


Reduced circulating levels of alpha 1-antitrypsin (alpha 1 AT) are associated with certain alpha 1 AT genotypes and increased susceptibility to emphysema. Unfortunately, the amounts of alpha 1 AT that would be required for replacement therapy are beyond the capacity of plasma fractionation and mammalian cell culture systems. Thus, we have examined the potential of transgenic animals as an alternative means of producing human alpha 1 AT. A hybrid gene constructed by using sequences from the ovine milk protein gene beta-lactoglobulin fused to an alpha 1 AT "minigene" was used to generate transgenic mice. Of 13 independent transgenic mice and mouse lines, 5 expressed the hybrid gene in the mammary gland, 5 in the salivary glands, and 2 in both these tissues. Human alpha 1 AT was secreted into the milk of each of the 7 mice and mouse lines that expressed the hybrid gene in the mammary gland. Four of these mammary-expressing transgenic mice and mouse lines produced concentrations of at least 0.5 mg of alpha 1 AT per ml in their milk; one line (AATB 35) produced 7 mg of this protein per ml. alpha 1 AT from transgenic mouse milk was similar in size to human plasma-derived alpha 1 AT and showed a similar capacity to inhibit trypsin. Expression at equivalent levels in transgenic sheep or cattle would yield sufficient alpha 1 AT for therapeutic purposes.

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