Phenotypic stability of Pro347Leu rhodopsin transgenic pigs as indicated by photoreceptor cell degeneration.
Rhodopsin (Pro347Leu) transgenic pigs are recognized to be an excellent model for the human disease, retinitis pigmentosa. First published in 1997, the rhodopsin transgenic pigs have been maintained since that time at North Carolina State University by outcrossing hemizygous boars to unrelated sows. Nine generations of outcrossing have been completed. Since the genetic background of these pigs has undoubtedly changed, the question of the current phenotype of the transgenic pigs is relevant for their future use. Age-matched transgenic and non-transgenic eyes were submitted for histological analysis using hematoxylin and eosin staining. Even by 2 weeks of age, significant thinning of the outer nuclear layer of photoreceptors was observed. For ages 3 and 4 weeks, thinning was noted similar to that of 2 weeks of age. By 6 weeks of age outer nuclear layer thinning was greater than that of earlier age. At 11 weeks of age, most of the rods have degenerated leaving only a few layers of cones. In all, the phenotype, based on assessment of photoreceptor degeneration, is similar to that of the first description of the transgenic animals. As such the Pro347Leu rhodopsin transgenic pigs have exhibited phenotypic stability through generations of outcrossing and can be used confidently in future studies of the type of retinal degeneration seen with retinitis pigmentosa.
Sommer, JR; Wong, F; Petters, RM
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