Swine production has been an important part of our lives since the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic periods, and ranks number one in world meat production. Pig production also contributes to high-value-added medical markets in the form of pharmaceuticals, heart valves, and surgical materials. Genetic engineering, including the addition of exogenous genetic material or manipulation of the endogenous genome, holds great promise for changing pig phenotypes for agricultural and medical applications. Although the first transgenic pigs were described in 1985, poor survival of manipulated embryos; inefficiencies in the integration, transmission, and expression of transgenes; and expensive husbandry costs have impeded the widespread application of pig genetic engineering. Sequencing of the pig genome and advances in reproductive technologies have rejuvenated efforts to apply transgenesis to swine. Pigs provide a compelling new resource for the directed production of pharmaceutical proteins and the provision of cells, vascular grafts, and organs for xenotransplantation. Additionally, given remarkable similarities in the physiology and size of people and pigs, swine will increasingly provide large animal models of human disease where rodent models are insufficient. We review the challenges facing pig transgenesis and discuss the utility of transposases and recombinases for enhancing the success and sophistication of pig genetic engineering. 'The paradise of my fancy is one where pigs have wings.' (GK Chesterton).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Cell Biology