Cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer can result in the birth of animals with phenotypic and gene expression abnormalities. We compared adult cloned pigs and adult pigs from naturally bred control females using a series of physiological and genetic parameters, including detailed methylation profiles of selected genomic regions. Phenotypic and genetic analyses indicated that there are two classes of traits, one in which the cloned pigs have less variation than controls and another characterized by variation that is equally high in cloned and control pigs. Although cloning creates animals within the normal phenotypic range, it increases the variability associated with some traits. This finding is contrary to the expectation that cloning can be used to reduce the size of groups involved in animal experimentation and to reproduce an animal, including a pet, with a homogenous set of desired traits.
assisted reproductive technology; developmental biology; embryo; gene regulation
Obesity induced by a high-caloric diet has previously been associated with changes in the gut microbiota in mice and in humans. In this study, pigs were cloned to minimize genetic and biological variation among the animals with the aim of developing a controlled metabolomic model suitable for a diet-intervention study. Cloning of pigs may be an attractive way to reduce genetic influences when investigating the effect of diet and obesity on different physiological sites. The aim of this study was to assess and compare the changes in the composition of the gut microbiota of cloned vs. non-cloned pigs during development of obesity by a high-fat/high-caloric diet. Furthermore, we investigated the association between diet-induced obesity and the relative abundance of the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes in the fecal-microbiota. The fecal microbiota from obese cloned (n = 5) and non-cloned control pigs (n= 6) was investigated biweekly over a period of 136 days, by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and quantitative real time PCR (qPCR).
A positive correlation was observed between body-weight at endpoint and percent body-fat in cloned (r=0.9, P<0.0001) and in non-cloned control pigs (r=0.9, P<0.0001). Shannon Weaver and principal component analysis (PCA) of the terminal restriction fragments (T-RFs) revealed no differences in the bacterial composition or variability of the fecal microbiota between the cloned pigs or between cloned and non-cloned control pigs. Body-weight correlated positively with the relative abundance of Firmicutes in both cloned (r=0.37; P<0.02) and non cloned-control pigs (r=0.45; P<0.006), and negatively with the abundance of Bacteroidetes in cloned pigs (r=−0.33, P<0.04), but not in the non-cloned control pigs.
The cloned pigs did not have reduced inter-individual variation as compared to non-cloned pigs in regard to their gut microbiota in neither the obese nor the lean state. Diet-induced obesity was associated with an increase in the relative abundance of Firmicutes over time. Our results suggest that cloned pigs are not a more suitable animal model for gut microbiota-obesity related studies than non-cloned pigs. This study is the first to evaluate if cloned pigs provide a better animal model than conventional pigs in diet-intervention, obesity and gut microbiota research.
Gut microbiota; Cloned pigs; Diet-induced obesity; Bacterial diversity; Bacteroidetes; Firmicutes
Animal experimentation is necessary to characterize human diseases and design adequate therapeutic interventions. In renal transplantation research, the limited number of in vitro models involves a crucial role for in vivo models and particularly for the porcine model. Pig and human kidneys are anatomically similar (characterized by multilobular structure in contrast to rodent and dog kidneys unilobular). The human proximity of porcine physiology and immune systems provides a basic knowledge of graft recovery and inflammatory physiopathology through in vivo studies. In addition, pig large body size allows surgical procedures similar to humans, repeated collections of peripheral blood or renal biopsies making pigs ideal for medical training and for the assessment of preclinical technologies. However, its size is also its main drawback implying expensive housing. Nevertheless, pig models are relevant alternatives to primate models, offering promising perspectives with developments of transgenic modulation and marginal donor models facilitating data extrapolation to human conditions.
Animal breeding via Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) has enormous potential in agriculture and biomedicine. However, concerns about whether SCNT animals are as healthy or epigenetically normal as conventionally bred ones are raised as the efficiency of cloning by SCNT is much lower than natural breeding or In-vitro fertilization (IVF). Thus, we have conducted a genome-wide gene expression and DNA methylation profiling between phenotypically normal cloned pigs and control pigs in two tissues (muscle and liver), using Affymetrix Porcine expression array as well as modified methylation-specific digital karyotyping (MMSDK) and Solexa sequencing technology. Typical tissue-specific differences with respect to both gene expression and DNA methylation were observed in muscle and liver from cloned as well as control pigs. Gene expression profiles were highly similar between cloned pigs and controls, though a small set of genes showed altered expression. Cloned pigs presented a more different pattern of DNA methylation in unique sequences in both tissues. Especially a small set of genomic sites had different DNA methylation status with a trend towards slightly increased methylation levels in cloned pigs. Molecular network analysis of the genes that contained such differential methylation loci revealed a significant network related to tissue development. In conclusion, our study showed that phenotypically normal cloned pigs were highly similar with normal breeding pigs in their gene expression, but moderate alteration in DNA methylation aspects still exists, especially in certain unique genomic regions.
The pig has been proposed as a relevant model for human obesity-induced inflammation, and cloning may improve the applicability of this model. We tested the assumptions that cloning would reduce interindividual variation in gene expression of innate immune factors and that their expression would remain unaffected by the cloning process. We investigated the expression of 40 innate immune factors by high-throughput quantitative real-time PCR in samples from liver, abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and neck SAT in cloned pigs compared to normal outbred pigs.
The variation in gene expression was found to be similar for the two groups, and the expression of a small number of genes was significantly affected by cloning. In the VAT and abdominal SAT, six out of seven significantly differentially expressed genes were downregulated in the clones. In contrast, most differently expressed genes in both liver and neck SAT were upregulated (seven out of eight). Remarkably, acute phase proteins (APPs) dominated the upregulated genes in the liver, whereas APP expression was either unchanged or downregulated in abdominal SAT and VAT. The general conclusion from this work is that cloning leads to subtle changes in specific subsets of innate immune genes. Such changes, even if minor, may have phenotypic effects over time, e.g., in models of long-term inflammation related to obesity.
Xenotransplantation from animals has been considered to be a preferable approach to alleviate the shortage of human allografts. Pigs are the most suitable candidate because of the anatomical and physiological similarities shared with humans as well as ethical concerns. However, it may be associated with the risk of transmission of infectious porcine pathogens. Porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) are of particular concern because they have been shown to infect human cells in vitro. To date, researches on the molecular characteristics and potential pathogenicity of PERV are still tenuous. In this report, an infectious replication competent clone of PERV from Wuzhishan pigs (WZSPs) in China was generated and characterized. This infectious clone will contribute to studies on PERV virology and control of PERV in xenotransplantation using Chinese miniature pigs.
The proviral DNA of PERV from WZSPs was amplified in two overlapping halves. Then the two fragments were isolated, subcloned and fused to generate pBluescriptαSK+-WZS-PERV recombinant clones. Screened with RT-PCR, a molecular clone of PERV designated as WZS-PERV(2) was selected. Its infectivity and replication competency were characterized in HEK293 cells by PCR, real-time fluorescent quantitative RT-PCR, western blot, indirect immunofluorescence assay as well as sequence analysis.
The ability of WZS-PERV(2) to infect human cells and produce infectious virions were shown after transfection of the clone into HEK293 cells and infection of PERV derived from this recombinant clone. The expression of Gag proteins were detected in HEK293 cells infected with the virus derived from the clone by the indirect immunofluorescence assay and western blot. The results of sequences analysis and comparison combined with the PCR based genotyping result demonstrated that the WZS-PERV(2) belonged to PERV-A subgroup. Compared with a previous proviral DNA clone of PERV (PERV-WZSP), G to A hypermutation occurred in the env gene of WZS-PERV(2) was found, whereas APOBEC proteins have the potential to inhibit the replication of a variety of retroviruses through a cDNA cytosine deamination mechanism, so we presumed these G to A hypermutation might be the contribution of porcine APOBEC3F.
Altogether, an infectious replication competent clone of PERV from Chinese miniature pigs (WZSPs) termed WZS-PERV(2) was generated, characterized and sequenced.
Chinese miniature pigs; Porcine endogenous retroviruses; Infectious molecular clone; Xenotransplantation
The principal objectives of this study were to develop autologous antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and to characterize the antigen-specific T-cell responses to the M and N proteins of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) by using those APCs in outbred pigs. The orf6 and orf7 genes fused with porcine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) were cloned into the mammalian expression vector to generate two plasmid DNAs, namely, pcDNA3.1-GM-CSF-PRRSV-M and pcDNA3.1-GM-CSF-PRRSV-N. Three of six pigs in two groups were repeatedly immunized with either plasmid DNA construct, and four pigs were used as controls. The recombinant M and N proteins fused with the protein transduction domain (PTD) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transactivator of transcription protein were employed to generate major histocompatibility complex-matched autologous APCs from each pig. The levels of T-cell proliferation and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) synthesis were compared between pigs immunized with the two plasmid DNAs after stimulation of the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of each pig with the autologous antigen-presenting dendritic cells and PBMCs. Higher levels of T-cell proliferation and IFN-γ synthesis were identified in PBMCs isolated from the pigs immunized with pcDNA3.1-GM-CSF-PRRSV-M than in those isolated from the pigs immunized with pcDNA3.1-GM-CSF-PRRSV-N. By way of contrast, serum antibodies were detected only in pigs immunized with pcDNA3.1-GM-CSF-PRRSV-N. However, no T-cell response or antibody production was detected in the control pigs. These results suggest that the M protein of PRRSV is a more potent T cell-stimulating antigen than the N protein. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that the N protein substantially induces both cellular and humoral immune responses. The newly developed protocol for generating self APCs may prove effective in further efforts to characterize additional PRRSV proteins involved in the induction of cell-mediated immunity.
Epidemiological studies in man and with experimental animal models have shown that intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) resulting in low birth weight is associated with higher risk of programming welfare diseases in later life. In the pig, severe IUGR occurs naturally and contribute substantially to a large intralitter variation in birth weight and may therefore be a good model for man. In the present paper the natural form of IUGR in pigs was studied close to term by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR-)based metabolomics. The NMR-based investigations revealed different metabolic profiles of plasma samples from low-birth weight (LW) and high-birth weight (HW) piglets, respectively, and differences were assigned to levels of glucose and myo-inositol. Further studies by GC-MS revealed that LW piglets had a significant higher concentration of myoinositol and D-chiro-inositol in plasma compared to larger littermates. Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol have been coupled with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in adults, and the present paper therefore suggests that IUGR is related to impaired glucose metabolism during fetal development, which may cause type 2 diabetes in adulthood.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) viruses are recognized as possessing a high degree of genetic and antigenic variability. Viral diversity has led to questions regarding the association of virus mutation and persistent infection in the host and has raised concerns vis-à-vis protective immunity, the ability of diagnostic assays to detect novel variants, and the possible emergence of virulent strains. The purpose of this study was to describe ongoing changes in PRRS virus during replication in pigs under experimental conditions. Animals were inoculated with a plaque-cloned virus derived from VR-2332, the North American PRRS virus prototype. Three independent lines of in vivo replication were maintained for 367 days by pig-to-pig passage of virus at 60-day intervals. A total of 315 plaque-cloned viruses were recovered from 21 pigs over the 367-day observation period and compared to the original plaque-cloned virus by virus neutralization assay, monoclonal antibody analysis, and sequencing of open reading frames (ORFs) 1b (replicase), 5 (major envelope protein), and 7 (nucleocapsid) of the genome. Variants were detected by day 7 postinoculation, and multiple variants were present concurrently in every pig sampled over the observation period. Sequence analysis showed ORFs 1b and 7 to be highly conserved. In contrast, sequencing of ORF 5 disclosed 48 nucleotide variants which corresponded to 22 amino acid variants. Although no epitopic changes were detected under the conditions of this experiment, PRRS virus was shown to evolve continuously in infected pigs, with different genes of the viral genome undergoing various degrees of change.
Islet transplantation is a potential treatment for type 1 diabetes, but the shortage of donor organs limits its routine application. As potential donor animals, we generated transgenic pigs expressing LEA29Y, a high-affinity variant of the T-cell costimulation inhibitor CTLA-4Ig, under the control of the porcine insulin gene promoter. Neonatal islet cell clusters (ICCs) from INSLEA29Y transgenic (LEA-tg) pigs and wild-type controls were transplanted into streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemic NOD-scid IL2Rγnull mice. Cloned LEA-tg pigs are healthy and exhibit a strong β-cell–specific transgene expression. LEA-tg ICCs displayed the same potential to normalize glucose homeostasis as wild-type ICCs after transplantation. After adoptive transfer of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, transplanted LEA-tg ICCs were completely protected from rejection, whereas reoccurrence of hyperglycemia was observed in 80% of mice transplanted with wild-type ICCs. In the current study, we provide the first proof-of-principle report on transgenic pigs with β-cell–specific expression of LEA29Y and their successful application as donors in a xenotransplantation model. This approach may represent a major step toward the development of a novel strategy for pig-to-human islet transplantation without side effects of systemic immunosuppression.
Selection for increasing intramuscular fat content would definitively improve the palatability and juiciness of pig meat as well as the sensorial and organoleptic properties of cured products. However, evidences obtained in human and model organisms suggest that high levels of intramuscular fat might alter muscle lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. We have analysed this issue by determining the transcriptomic profiles of Duroc pigs with divergent phenotypes for 13 fatness traits. The strong aptitude of Duroc pigs to have high levels of intramuscular fat makes them a valuable model to analyse the mechanisms that regulate muscle lipid metabolism, an issue with evident implications in the elucidation of the genetic basis of human metabolic diseases such as obesity and insulin resistance.
Muscle gene expression profiles of 68 Duroc pigs belonging to two groups (HIGH and LOW) with extreme phenotypes for lipid deposition and composition traits have been analysed. Microarray and quantitative PCR analysis showed that genes related to fatty acid uptake, lipogenesis and triacylglycerol synthesis were upregulated in the muscle tissue of HIGH pigs, which are fatter and have higher amounts of intramuscular fat than their LOW counterparts. Paradoxically, lipolytic genes also showed increased mRNA levels in the HIGH group suggesting the existence of a cycle where triacylglycerols are continuously synthesized and degraded. Several genes related to the insulin-signalling pathway, that is usually impaired in obese humans, were also upregulated. Finally, genes related to antigen-processing and presentation were downregulated in the HIGH group.
Our data suggest that selection for increasing intramuscular fat content in pigs would lead to a shift but not a disruption of the metabolic homeostasis of muscle cells. Future studies on the post-translational changes affecting protein activity or expression as well as information about protein location within the cell would be needed to to elucidate the effects of lipid deposition on muscle metabolism in pigs.
Porcine animal models are used to advance our understanding of human physiology. Current research is also directed at methods to produce transgenic pigs. Cryobanking gametes and embryos can facilitate the preservation of valuable genotypes, yet cryopreserving oocytes from pigs has proven very challenging. The current study was designed to understand the effects of anisotonic solutions on in vitro matured porcine oocytes as a first step toward designing improved cryopreservation procedures. We hypothesized that the proportion of oocytes demonstrating a normal spindle apparatus and in vitro developmental potential would be proportional to the solution osmolality. Oocytes were incubated for 10 minutes at 38 °C in various hypo- or hypertonic solutions, and an isotonic control solution and then assessed for these two parameters. Our results support the hypothesis, with an increasing proportion of spindles showing a disrupted structure as the levels of anisotonic exposure diverge from isotonic. Only about half of the oocytes maintained developmental potential after exposure to anisotonic solutions compared to untreated controls. Oocyte volume displayed a linear response to anisotonic solutions as expected, with an estimated relative osmotically-inactive cell volume of 0.178. The results from this study provide initial biophysical data to characterize porcine oocytes. The results from future experiments designed to determine the membrane permeability to various cryoprotectants will allow predictive modeling of optimal cryopreservation procedures and provide a basis for designing improved cryopreservation procedures.
Porcine; Oocyte; Cryopreservation; Osmotic; Spindle; Blastocyst; Vitrification
Obesity and related diabetes are important health threatening multifactorial metabolic diseases and it has been suggested that 25% of all diabetic patients are unaware of their patho-physiological condition. Biomarkers for monitoring and control are available, but early stage predictive biomarkers enabling prevention of these diseases are still lacking. We used the pig as a model to study metabolic disease because humans and pigs share a multitude of metabolic similarities. Diabetes was chemically induced and control and diabetic pigs were either fed a high unsaturated fat (Mediterranean) diet or a high saturated fat/cholesterol/sugar (cafeteria) diet. Physiological parameters related to fat metabolism and diabetes were measured. Diabetic pigs' plasma proteome profiles differed more between the two diets than control pigs plasma proteome profiles. The expression levels of several proteins correlated well with (patho)physiological parameters related to the fat metabolism (cholesterol, VLDL, LDL, NEFA) and diabetes (Glucose) and to the diet fed to the animals. Studying only the control pigs as a model for metabolic syndrome when fed the two diets showed correlations to the same parameters but now more focused on insulin, glucose and abdominal fat depot parameters. We conclude that proteomic profiles can be used as a biomarker to identify pigs with developing metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) and diabetes when fed a cafeteria diet. It could be developed into a potential biomarkers for the early recognition of metabolic diseases.
The guinea pig has been the most commonly used small animal species in preclinical studies related to asthma and COPD. The primary advantages of the guinea pig are the similar potencies and efficacies of agonists and antagonists in human and guinea pig airways and the many similarities in physiological processes, especially airway autonomic control and the response to allergen. The primary disadvantages to using guinea pigs are the lack of transgenic methods, limited numbers of guinea pig strains for comparative studies and a prominent axon reflex that is unlikely to be present in human airways. These attributes and various models developed in guinea pigs are discussed.
Leukotrienes; Autonomic; Influenza; IL-5
► The active region of porcine CSF-1 and full length CSF-1R have been cloned. ► Biological activity of porcine CSF-1 has been demonstrated. ► The cross species reactivity of IL-34 has been investigated. ► Both mouse and human IL-34 are biologically active on the pig CSF-1R. ► CSF-1 and IL-34 structure analysis of species-specific activity has been performed.
Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor (CSF-1) controls the survival, differentiation and proliferation of cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system. A second ligand for the CSF-1R, Interleukin 34 (IL-34), has been described, but its physiological role is not yet known. The domestic pig provides an alternative to traditional rodent models for evaluating potential therapeutic applications of CSF-1R agonists and antagonists. To enable such studies, we cloned and expressed active pig CSF-1. To provide a bioassay, pig CSF-1R was expressed in the factor-dependent Ba/F3 cell line. On this transfected cell line, recombinant porcine CSF-1 and human CSF-1 had identical activity. Mouse CSF-1 does not interact with the human CSF-1 receptor but was active on pig. By contrast, porcine CSF-1 was active on mouse, human, cat and dog cells. IL-34 was previously shown to be species-specific, with mouse and human proteins demonstrating limited cross-species activity. The pig CSF-1R was equally responsive to both mouse and human IL-34. Based upon the published crystal structures of CSF-1/CSF-1R and IL34/CSF-1R complexes, we discuss the molecular basis for the species specificity.
Macrophage; Ba/F3 cells; Bone marrow; Hematopoiesis; Species specificity
Gram-negative bacteria of the genus Serratia are opportunistic human, plant, and insect pathogens. Serratia sp. strain ATCC 39006 secretes pectinases and cellulases and produces the secondary metabolites carbapenem and prodigiosin. Mutation of a gene (pigX) resulted in an extremely pleiotropic phenotype: prodigiosin antibiotic biosynthesis, plant virulence, and pectinase production were all elevated. PigX controlled secondary metabolism by repressing the transcription of the target prodigiosin biosynthetic operon (pigA-pigO). The transcriptional start site of pigX was determined, and pigX expression occurred in parallel with Pig production. Detailed quantitative intracellular proteome analyses enabled the identification of numerous downstream targets of PigX, including OpgG, mutation of which reduced the production of the plant cell wall-degrading enzymes and virulence. The highly pleiotropic PigX regulator contains GGDEF and EAL domains with noncanonical motifs and is predicted to be membrane associated. Genetic evidence suggests that PigX might function as a cyclic dimeric GMP phosphodiesterase. This is the first characterization of a GGDEF and EAL domain protein in Serratia and the first example of the regulation of antibiotic production by a GGDEF/EAL domain protein.
Mammalian cloning by nuclear transfer from somatic cells has created new opportunities to generate animal models of genetic diseases in species other than mice. Although genetic mouse models play a critical role in basic and applied research for numerous diseases, often mouse models do not adequately reproduce the human disease phenotype. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one such disease. Targeted ablation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene in mice does not adequately replicate spontaneous bacterial infections observed in the human CF lung. Hence, several laboratories are pursuing alternative animal models of CF in larger species such as the pig, sheep, rabbits, and ferrets. Our laboratory has focused on developing the ferret as a CF animal model. Over the past few years, we have investigated several experimental parameters required for gene targeting and nuclear transfer (NT) cloning in the ferret using somatic cells. In this review, we will discuss our progress and the hurdles to NT cloning and gene-targeting that accompany efforts to generate animal models of genetic diseases in species such as the ferret.
Betaine homocysteine methyltransferase (BHMT) and BHMT-2 enzymes methylate homocysteine to form methionine using betaine and S-methylmethionine, respectively. These activities are observed only in the liver of adult rodents, but in adult humans and pigs these activities are detected in both the liver and kidney, indicating the pig is a more appropriate model for studying the biochemical and physiological roles of these enzymes in human biology. Porcine BHMT and BHMT-2 cDNAs were cloned and sequenced, and their 5' and 3' UTR were amplified using RLM-RACE. The BHMT transcript had significantly longer 5' and 3' UTRs than BHMT-2. The pig BHMT and BHMT-2 genes span approximately 26kb and 16kb, respectively, and both genes have 8 exons. The deduced amino acid sequences of BHMT and BHMT-2 contain 407 and 363 amino acids, respectively, and shared 78% amino acid identity. No promoter element (TATA or CAAT box) was observed for either BHMT or BHMT-2, although a CpG island surrounding the promoter and transcriptional start site were observed in both genes implying that methylation could regulate their expression. Using qPCR, it was determined that BHMT and BHMT-2 transcripts are very abundant in liver and kidney cortex, whereas the expression is significantly less in other tissues. These findings confirm that the expression pattern of BHMT and BHMT-2 genes in pigs is similar to humans, supporting the use of the pig as an animal model to study the genetics and regulation of BHMT and BHMT-2 expression.
BHMT; BHMT-2; homocysteine; pig
Integrins constitute a superfamily of transmembrane signaling receptors that play pivotal roles in cutaneous homeostasis by modulating cell growth and differentiation as well as inflammatory responses in the skin. Subrabasal expression of integrins α2 and/or β1 entails hyperproliferation and aberrant differentiation of keratinocytes and leads to dermal and epidermal influx of activated T-cells. The anatomical and physiological similarities between porcine and human skin make the pig a suitable model for human skin diseases. In efforts to generate a porcine model of cutaneous inflammation, we employed the Sleeping Beauty DNA transposon system for production of transgenic cloned Göttingen minipigs expressing human β1 or α2 integrin under the control of a promoter specific for subrabasal keratinocytes. Using pools of transgenic donor fibroblasts, cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer was utilized to produce reconstructed embryos that were subsequently transferred to surrogate sows. The resulting pigs were all transgenic and harbored from one to six transgene integrants. Molecular analyses on skin biopsies and cultured keratinocytes showed ectopic expression of the human integrins and localization within the keratinocyte plasma membrane. Markers of perturbed skin homeostasis, including activation of the MAPK pathway, increased expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1α, and enhanced expression of the transcription factor c-Fos, were identified in keratinocytes from β1 and α2 integrin-transgenic minipigs, suggesting the induction of a chronic inflammatory phenotype in the skin. Notably, cellular dysregulation obtained by overexpression of either β1 or α2 integrin occurred through different cellular signaling pathways. Our findings mark the creation of the first cloned pig models with molecular markers of skin inflammation. Despite the absence of an overt psoriatic phenotype, these animals may possess increased susceptibility to severe skin damage-induced inflammation and should be of great potential in studies aiming at the development and refinement of topical therapies for cutaneous inflammation including psoriasis.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is the major cause of enterically transmitted non-A, non-B hepatitis in many developing countries and is also endemic in many industrialized countries. Due to the lack of an effective cell culture system and a practical animal model, the mechanisms of HEV pathogenesis and replication are poorly understood. Our recent identification of swine HEV from pigs affords us an opportunity to systematically study HEV replication and pathogenesis in a swine model. In an early study, we experimentally infected specific-pathogen-free pigs with two strains of HEV: swine HEV and the US-2 strain of human HEV. Eighteen pigs (group 1) were inoculated intravenously with swine HEV, 19 pigs (group 2) were inoculated with the US-2 strain of human HEV, and 17 pigs (group 3) were used as uninoculated controls. The clinical and pathological findings have been previously reported. In this expanded study, we aim to identify the potential extrahepatic sites of HEV replication using the swine model. Two pigs from each group were necropsied at 3, 7, 14, 20, 27, and 55 days postinoculation (DPI). Thirteen different types of tissues and organs were collected from each necropsied animal. Reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) was used to detect the presence of positive-strand HEV RNA in each tissue collected during necropsy at different DPI. A negative-strand-specific RT-PCR was standardized and used to detect the replicative, negative strand of HEV RNA from tissues that tested positive for the positive-strand RNA. As expected, positive-strand HEV RNA was detected in almost every type of tissue at some time point during the viremic period between 3 and 27 DPI. Positive-strand HEV RNA was still detectable in some tissues in the absence of serum HEV RNA from both swine HEV- and human HEV-inoculated pigs. However, replicative, negative-strand HEV RNA was detected primarily in the small intestines, lymph nodes, colons, and livers. Our results indicate that HEV replicates in tissues other than the liver. The data from this study may have important implications for HEV pathogenesis, xenotransplantation, and the development of an in vitro cell culture system for HEV.
Recent advances in genomics provide genetic information from humans and other
mammals (mouse, rat, dog and primates) traditionally used as models as well
as new candidates (pigs and cattle). In addition, linked enabling technologies,
such as transgenesis and animal cloning, provide innovative ways to design and
perform experiments to dissect complex biological systems. Exploitation of genomic
information overcomes the traditional need to choose naturally occurring models.
Thus, investigators can utilize emerging genomic knowledge and tools to create
relevant animal models. This approach is referred to as reverse genetics. In contrast
to ‘forward genetics’, in which gene(s) responsible for a particular phenotype
are identified by positional cloning (phenotype to genotype), the ‘reverse genetics’
approach determines the function of a gene and predicts the phenotype of a
cell, tissue, or organism (genotype to phenotype). The convergence of classical
and reverse genetics, along with genomics, provides a working definition of a
‘genetic model’ organism (3). The recent construction of phenotypic maps defining
quantitative trait loci (QTL) in various domesticated species provides insights into
how allelic variations contribute to phenotypic diversity. Targeted chromosomal
regions are characterized by the construction of bacterial artificial chromosome
(BAC) contigs to isolate and characterize genes contributing towards phenotypic
variation. Recombineering provides a powerful methodology to harvest genetic
information responsible for phenotype. Linking recombineering with gene-targeted
homologous recombination, coupled with nuclear transfer (NT) technology can
provide ‘clones’ of genetically modified animals.
To improve the welfare of experimental animals, investigators seek to respect the 3R principle (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement). Even when large animal studies are essential before moving to clinical trials, it is important to look for ways to reduce the number of experimental animals used. At the Center for the Development of Advanced Medical Technology, we consider ‘medical’ pigs to be ideal preclinical model systems.
We have been using both wild-type and genetically modified pigs. We began using this approach about 10 years ago with a ‘total pig system’ to model human health and disease for the purposes of both medical skill education and the development of new devices and therapeutic strategies.
At our Center, medical students and residents use pigs to gain experience with surgical skills and train for emergency procedures after appropriate simulation training. Senior clinicians have also used these models to advance the development of innovative tools for endo- and laparoscopic procedures. The Center focuses on translational research for organ transplantation and stem cell therapy. Several pig models have been established for liver, intestine, kidney, pancreas, and lung transplantation. Mesenchymal stromal cells have been established in green fluorescent protein- and red fluorescent protein-transgenic pigs and tested to trans-differentiate organogenesis. A program to establish induced pluripotent stem cells in the pig is ongoing at our Center.
Here, we review our 10 years of activity in this field. Based on our experience in surgical education and research, experimental pigs are valuable models in translational research.
Experimental animals; Pig; Translational research
Skeletal muscle is one of the most important economic traits in agricultural animals, especially in pigs. In the modern pig industry, lean type pigs have undergone strong artificial selection for muscle growth, which has led to remarkable phenotypic variations compared with fatty type pigs, making these different breeds an ideal model for comparative studies.
Here, we present comprehensive gene expression profiling for the white (longissimus dorsi muscle) and the red (psoas major muscle) skeletal muscles among male and female fatty Rongchang, feral Tibetan and lean Landrace pigs, using a microarray approach. We identified differentially expressed genes that may be associated the phenotypic differences of porcine muscles among the breeds, between the sexes and the anatomical locations. We also used a clustering method to identify sets of functionally coexpressed genes that are linked to different muscle phenotypes. We showed that, compared with the white muscles, which primarily modulate metabolic processes, the red muscles show a tendency to be a risk factor for inflammation and immune-related disorders.
This analysis presents breed-, sex- and anatomical location-specific gene expression profiles and further identified genes that may be associated with the phenotypic differences in porcine muscles among breeds, between the sexes and the anatomical locations.
Gene expression; Microarray; Muscle; Pig
An experimental model that demonstrates a mycoplasma species acting to potentiate a viral pneumonia was developed. Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, which produces a chronic, lymphohistiocytic bronchopneumonia in pigs, was found to potentiate the severity and the duration of a virus-induced pneumonia in pigs. Pigs were inoculated with M. hyopneumoniae 21 days prior to, simultaneously with, or 10 days after inoculation with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), which induces an acute interstitial pneumonia in pigs. PRRSV-induced clinical respiratory disease and macroscopic and microscopic pneumonic lesions were more severe and persistent in M. hyopneumoniae-infected pigs. At 28 or 38 days after PRRSV inoculation, M. hyopneumoniae-infected pigs still exhibited lesions typical of PRRSV-induced pneumonia, whereas the lungs of pigs which had received only PRRSV were essentially normal. On the basis of macroscopic lung lesions, it appears that PRRSV infection did not influence the severity of M. hyopneumoniae infection, although microscopic lesions typical of M. hyopneumoniae were more severe in PRRSV-infected pigs. These results indicate that M. hyopneumoniae infection potentiates PRRSV-induced disease and lesions. Most importantly, M. hyopneumoniae-infected pigs with minimal to nondetectable mycoplasmal pneumonia lesions manifested significantly increased PRRSV-induced pneumonia lesions compared to pigs infected with PRRSV only. This discovery is important with respect to the control of respiratory disease in pigs and has implications in elucidating the potential contribution of mycoplasmas in the pathogenesis of viral infections of other species, including humans.
A rodent model for human Lassa fever was developed which uses inbred (strain 13) and outbred (Hartley) guinea pigs. Strain 13 guinea pigs were uniformly susceptible to lethal infection by 2 or more PFU of Lassa virus strain Josiah. In contrast, no more than 30% of the Hartley guinea pigs died regardless of the virus dose. In lethally infected strain 13 guinea pigs, peak titers of virus (10(7) to 10(8) PFU) occurred in the spleen and lymph nodes at 8 to 9 days, in the salivary glands at 11 days, and in the lung at 14 to 16 days. Virus reached low titers (10(4) PFU) in the plasma and brain and intermediate titers in the liver, adrenal glands, kidney, pancreas, and heart. In moribund animals, the most consistent and severe histological lesion as an interstitial pneumonia. In contrast, the brain was only minimally involved. The immune response of lethally infected strain 13 guinea pigs, as measured by the indirect fluorescent antibody test, was detectable within 10 days of infection and was similar in timing and intensity to the fluorescent antibody test response of both lethally infected and surviving outbred animals. In contrast to the fluorescent antibody response, neutralizing antibody developed late in convalescence and was thus detected only in surviving outbred guinea pigs. The availability of a rodent model for human Lassa fever in uniformly susceptible strain 13 guinea pigs should facilitate detailed pathophysiological studies and efficacy testing of antiviral drugs, candidate vaccines, and immunotherapy regimens to develop control methods for this life-threatening disease in humans.