Editing livestock genomes with site-specific nucleases

Daniel F. Carlson, Wenfang Tan, Perry B. Hackett, Scott C. Fahrenkrug

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Over the past 5 years there has been a major transformation in our ability to precisely manipulate the genomes of animals. Efficiencies of introducing precise genetic alterations in large animal genomes have improved 100000-fold due to a succession of site-specific nucleases that introduce double-strand DNA breaks with a specificity of 10-9. Herein we describe our applications of site-specific nucleases, especially transcription activator-like effector nucleases, to engineer specific alterations in the genomes of pigs and cows. We can introduce variable changes mediated by non-homologous end joining of DNA breaks to inactive genes. Alternatively, using homology-directed repair, we have introduced specific changes that support either precise alterations in a gene's encoded polypeptide, elimination of the gene or replacement by another unrelated DNA sequence. Depending on the gene and the mutation, we can achieve 10%-50% effective rates of precise mutations. Applications of the new precision genetics are extensive. Livestock now can be engineered with selected phenotypes that will augment their value and adaption to variable ecosystems. In addition, animals can be engineered to specifically mimic human diseases and disorders, which will accelerate the production of reliable drugs and devices. Moreover, animals can be engineered to become better providers of biomaterials used in the medical treatment of diseases and disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-82
Number of pages9
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/Cas9
  • Homology-directed repair
  • Non-homologous end joining
  • Somatic cell nuclear transfer
  • Transcription activator-like effector nucleases
  • Zinc finger nucleases


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