Detection of Corn Intrinsic and Recombinant DNA Fragments and Cry1Ab Protein in the Gastrointestinal Contents of Pigs Fed Genetically Modified Corn Bt11

J Anim Sci. 2003 Oct;81(10):2546-51. doi: 10.2527/2003.81102546x.


Genetically modified corn has been approved as an animal feed in several countries, but information about the fate of genetically modified DNA and protein in vivo is insufficient. Genetically modified corn Bt11 is developed by inserting a recombinant DNA sequence encoding insecticidal Cry1Ab protein from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. We examined the presence of corn intrinsic and recombinant cry1Ab gene by PCR, and the Cry1Ab protein by immunological tests in the gastrointestinal contents of five genetically modified corn Bt11-fed and five nongenetically modified corn-fed pigs. Fragments of corn zein (242 bp), invertase (226 bp) and of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/ oxygenase genes (1,028 bp) were detected in the gastrointestinal contents of both Bt11 and nongenetically modified corn-fed pigs. Fragments of recombinant cry1Ab gene (110 bp and 437 bp) were detected in the gastrointestinal contents of the Bt11-fed pigs but not in the control pigs. Neither corn intrinsic nor cry1Ab gene fragments were detected in the peripheral blood by PCR. The gastrointestinal contents were positive for Cry1Ab protein by ELISA, immunochromatography, and immunoblot; however, these methods did not work for blood and precluded conclusions about any potential absorption of the protein. These results suggest that ingested corn DNA and Cry1Ab protein were not totally degraded in the gastrointestinal tract, as shown by their presence in a form detectable by PCR or immunological tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Chromatography / methods
  • Chromatography / veterinary
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA, Plant / analysis
  • DNA, Recombinant / analysis*
  • Endotoxins / genetics
  • Endotoxins / isolation & purification*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / veterinary
  • Gastrointestinal Contents / chemistry
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Immunoblotting / veterinary
  • Male
  • Plants, Genetically Modified* / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Random Allocation
  • Swine / metabolism*
  • Zea mays / genetics*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Plant
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Endotoxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • insecticidal crystal protein, Bacillus Thuringiensis