Current Progress of Genetically Engineered Pig Models for Biomedical Research
The first transgenic pigs were generated for agricultural purposes about three decades ago. Since then, the micromanipulation techniques of pig oocytes and embryos expanded from pronuclear injection of foreign DNA to somatic cell nuclear transfer, intracytoplasmic sperm injection-mediated gene transfer, lentiviral transduction, and cytoplasmic injection. Mechanistically, the passive transgenesis approach based on random integration of foreign DNA was developed to active genetic engineering techniques based on the transient activity of ectopic enzymes, such as transposases, recombinases, and programmable nucleases. Whole-genome sequencing and annotation of advanced genome maps of the pig complemented these developments. The full implementation of these tools promises to immensely increase the efficiency and, in parallel, to reduce the costs for the generation of genetically engineered pigs. Today, the major application of genetically engineered pigs is found in the field of biomedical disease modeling. It is anticipated that genetically engineered pigs will increasingly be used in biomedical research, since this model shows several similarities to humans with regard to physiology, metabolism, genome organization, pathology, and aging.