What Are Transgenic Mice?

What Are Transgenic Mice?

What Are Transgenic Mice Used to Treat and Study?

What are transgenic mice and why have they become so popular in the past few years? This is a question that many people tend to ask in this day and age, especially since so many scientific papers have appeared that feature the use of transgenic mice. In most cases, the mice are used for the purpose of studying various genes and the diseases or specific expressions they entail. However, there is far more than meets the eye, as specific transgenic mouse models are achieved more accurately than ever before with the help of advanced technologies like CRISPR/Cas9.

An Introduction to Transgenic Mouse Models

So let’s start with the beginning: what are transgenic mice and what are they used for? The short answer is that transgenic mice are mice that have been artificially modified at a genetic level to include a transgene. This process typically involves the inclusion of one or more human genetic traits into the mouse’s genome in order to create a humanized mouse. Once a new strain of humanized mice is developed, it can be used to study specific genetic responses and traits that would otherwise only be possible through human trials. Debilitating diseases such as cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome and diabetes are commonly studied with the help of transgenic models that are modified to include a predisposition to these diseases of a strikingly human quality.

Knockin vs. Transgenic Mice

There are many similarities and differences between knockin and transgenic mice that have to be understood. While exploring the “what are transgenic mice made for” problem, many beginning researchers make the mistake of believing that the two methods are one and the same – or at least strikingly similar. The main difference between transgenic and knock-in mouse models is that the former is obtained through random expressions of a certain gene, while the latter features the introduction of the gene at a specific locus within the mouse genome. This difference is essential, since a knockin model featuring human gene integration might offer more specific integration, but it can lack the ability to mimic human genetic expressions as faithfully as a transgenic model would.

Studies and Examples – The Usefulness of the Transgenic Mouse

What are transgenic mice really used for? The specifics relating to answering this question could fill entire volumes – and in fact, they do – however, a couple of recent examples can be given that will illustrate just how indispensable transgenic mice can really be. One is represented by the animal models of Paget’s Disease that were used in Friedrick R. Singer’s 2016 experiments to observe bone structure changes in models featuring SQSMT1 mutations. The other study was a 2009 research study by M. Davis and K.M. Myers, that explored fear extinction in the Pavlovian fear conditioning paradigm.

The Effective Generation of Specific Mouse Models

As you can see, there are highly specific uses to transgenic mice, but these can not be put to good use without the generation of highly targeted transgenic mouse models. In our modern times, this action is facilitated through advanced, precise technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9. This method can be used to generate both knockins and transgenic humanized models and guarantee the germline transmission of the desired mutation. You’ll be surprised at the accuracy of this technique when you ask, precisely what are transgenic mice able to convey within the confines of a successful genetic experiment.

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