Transgenic cow’s milk: the fear of allergenicity allayed

Transgenic cow’s milk: the fear of allergenicity allayed

For years cow’s milk has supplanted mother’s milk. Several studies have shown  that 2-3% of children in the developed countries and an unknown number in developing countries are allergic to milk proteins and it is evident from several studies that β-lactoglobulin (BLG), one major milk protein component of ruminant animal milk, lacking in human milk accounts for this allergenecity. In this investigation four scientists led by Goetz Laible successfully managed to overcome this problem by developing transgenic cattle that lacks BLG which has been published The results have been published in PNAS on 1st of October 2012 (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210057109). This was achieved by means of RNAi technology where miRNAs were directed against BLG B transcripts as it is common between ovine and bovine. Tandem construct of miRNA 6-4 drastically reduced the BLG level in COS-7 cell line. This led to in vivoexperiments where transgenic mice of miRNA 6-4 construct were developed and later crossed with an existing transgenic mouse line capable of expressing ovine BLG. Followed by identification the mice were let to breed and natural lactation. Eventually the transgenic calf was developed, after hormonal induction which showed the desired result in RT PCR, SDS-PAGE and Western Blot. Even the HPLC results showed there were low amount of BLG in the transgenic calf milk. However the milk contained 2 fold more α-caesin, β-caesin and 4 fold more κ-caesin. Interestingly, it was found that the calf was tailless but later it was explored that it had nothing to do with the transgene rather; it was derived from a mutation predisposed in the donor cell. We hope that the aspects of this pioneering achievement would not only be limited in benefitting the infants having milk allergenicity but also it could lead other researchers  solve many such problems where developing transgenic animals is a barrier. [Summarized by Ahsan Habib Polash, Research associate, Plant Molecular Biology, BMB, DU]

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