Transgenesis and gene edition in small ruminants

Alejo Menchaca, Ana P. Mulet, Pedro C. dos Santos Neto, Martina Crispo


This review summarizes the main achievements with the use of transgenesis and genome editing technologies in sheep and goats. Transgenesis, also referred to as recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology, made possible by the first time 30 years ago the addition of novel traits from a given species into a different one. On the other hand, more recently genome editing appears a much more precise method of making changes to the genome of a plant, animal, or other living organism, allowing for the addition, substitution, or deletion of specific nucleotides in an organism’s genome. With transgenesis, the introduction of new DNA into an organism’s genome was generally without control of the site of the genome in which the insertion of that rDNA construct would occur. With genome editing in contrast, researchers and developers of products can make specific changes in precise locations of the genome. This concept was absolutely improved with the novel CRISPR/Cas system, making genome edition cheaper, more efficient, easier and affordable for every Laboratory around the world. This revolution that originally emerged from molecular biology and passed to biomedicine, has recently been applied to livestock and agriculture. In addition, the application of this technology in sheep, goats, pigs and cattle, also has been possible by the advance of assisted reproductive technologies for embryo production, micromanipulation, cryopreservation and transfer. In general, multidisciplinary approaches including basic research and technical improvements, participation of private actors and adequate regulation should be merged to take advantage of this potent biotechnology in different countries.


genome edition; livestock; endonucleases; embryo; micromanipulation

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