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Rieblinger, Beate; Sid, Hicham; Duda, Denise; Bozoglu, Tarik; Klinger, Romina; Schlickenrieder, Antonina; Lengyel, Kamila; Flisikowski, Krzysztof; Flisikowska, Tatiana; Simm, Nina; Grodziecki, Alessandro; Perleberg, Carolin; Bahr, Andrea; Carrier, Lucie; Kurome, Mayuko; Zakhartchenko, Valeri; Kessler, Barbara; Wolf, Eckhard; Kettler, Lutz; Luksch, Harald; Hagag, Ibrahim T.; Wise, Daniel; Kaufman, Jim; Kaufer, Benedikt B.; Kupatt, Christian; Schnieke, Angelika and Schusser, Benjamin (2021): Cas9-expressing chickens and pigs as resources for genome editing in livestock. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 118, No. 10, e2022562118

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Genetically modified animals continue to provide important insights into the molecular basis of health and disease. Research has focused mostly on genetically modified mice, although other species like pigs resemble the human physiology more closely. In addition, cross-species comparisons with phylogenetically distant species such as chickens provide powerful insights into fundamental biological and biomedical processes. One of the most versatile genetic methods applicable across species is CRISPR-Cas9. Here, we report the generation of transgenic chickens and pigs that constitutively express Cas9 in all organs. These animals are healthy and fertile. Functionality of Cas9 was confirmed in both species for a number of different target genes, for a variety of cell types and in vivo by targeted gene disruption in lymphocytes and the developing brain, and by precise excision of a 12.7-kb DNA fragment in the heart. The Cas9 transgenic animals will provide a powerful resource for in vivo genome editing for both agricultural and translational biomedical research, and will facilitate reverse genetics as well as cross-species comparisons.

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