Transposon-Based Reporter Marking Provides Functional Evidence for Intercellular Bridges in the Male Germline of Rabbits
The Sleeping Beauty transposon system was established as a robust and efficient method for germline transgenesis in different mammalian species. The generation of transgenic mice, rats, rabbits and swine carrying an identical Venus reporter construct delivered by transposon-mediated gene transfer enables comparative studies of gene expression in these lines of mammalian models. Whereas comparable expression patterns of the Venus reporter were found in somatic tissues, preliminary studies suggested that a striking difference in reporter expression may exist in mature spermatozoa of these species. Here we clearly show the differential expression of Venus reporter protein during spermatogenesis of the two compared species, the laboratory rabbit and mice. We provide evidence for the functionality of intercellular bridges in the male germline and genotype-independent transgenic phenotype of rabbit spermatids. Our data suggest that the reporter rabbit line may be a suitable tool to identify molecular mechanisms in testicular development, and may contribute to develop better animal models for male infertility in men.