The domestic pig has been widely used as an important large animal model. Precise and efficient genetic modification in pig provides a great promise in biomedical research. Recently, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated (Cas) system has been successfully used to produce many gene-targeted animals. However, these animals have been generated by co-injection of Cas9 mRNA and single-guide RNA (sgRNA) into one-cell stage embryos, which mostly resulted in mosaicism of the modification. One or two rounds of further breeding should be performed to obtain homozygotes with identical genotype and phenotype. To address this issue, gene-targeted somatic cells can be used as donor for somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to produce gene-targeted animals with single and identical mutations. In this study, we applied Cas9/sgRNAs to effectively direct gene editing in porcine fetal fibroblasts and then mutant cell colonies were used as donor to generate homozygous gene-targeted pigs through single round of SCNT. As a result, we successfully obtained 15 tyrosinase (TYR) biallelic mutant pigs and 20 PARK2 and PINK1 double-gene knockout (KO) pigs. They were all homozygous and no off-target mutagenesis was detected by comprehensive analysis. TYR (-/-) pigs showed typical albinism and the expression of parkin and PINK1 were depleted in PARK2 (-/-)/PINK1 (-/-) pigs. The results demonstrated that single- or double-gene targeted pigs can be effectively achieved by using the CRISPR/Cas9 system combined with SCNT without mosaic mutation and detectable off-target effects. This gene-editing system provides an efficient, rapid, and less costly manner to generate genetically modified pigs or other large animals.
Rabbits are commonly used as laboratory animal models to investigate human diseases and phylogenetic development. However, pluripotent stem cells that contribute to germline transmission have yet to be established in rabbits. The transcription factor Oct4, also known as Pou5f1, is considered essential for the maintenance of the pluripotency of stem cells. Hence, pluripotent cells can be identified by monitoring Oct4 expression using a well-established Oct4 promoter-based reporter system. This study developed a rabbit Oct4 promoter-based enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter system by transfecting pROP2-EGFP into rabbit fetal fibroblasts (RFFs). The transgenic RFFs were used as donor cells for somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The EGFP expression was detected in the blastocysts and genital ridges of SCNT fetuses. Fibroblasts and neural stem cells (NSCs) were derived from the SCNT fetuses. EGFP was also reactivated in blastocysts after the second SCNT, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) were obtained after reprogramming using Yamanaka's factors. The results above indicated that a rabbit reporter system used to monitor the differentiating status of cells was successfully developed.
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