Generation of antibody- and B cell-deficient pigs by targeted disruption of the J-region gene segment of the heavy chain locus

Transgenic Res. 2011 Jun;20(3):625-41. doi: 10.1007/s11248-010-9444-z. Epub 2010 Sep 26.


A poly(A)-trap gene targeting strategy was used to disrupt the single functional heavy chain (HC) joining region (J(H)) of swine in primary fibroblasts. Genetically modified piglets were then generated via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) and bred to yield litters comprising J(H) wild-type littermate (+/+), J(H) heterozygous knockout (±) and J(H) homozygous knockout (-/-) piglets in the expected Mendelian ratio of 1:2:1. There are only two other targeted loci previously published in swine, and this is the first successful poly(A)-trap strategy ever published in a livestock species. In either blood or secondary lymphoid tissues, flow cytometry, RT-PCR and ELISA detected no circulating IgM(+) B cells, and no transcription or secretion of immunoglobulin (Ig) isotypes, respectively in J(H) -/- pigs. Histochemical and immunohistochemical (IHC) studies failed to detect lymph node (LN) follicles or CD79α(+) B cells, respectively in J(H) -/- pigs. T cell receptor (TCR)(β) transcription and T cells were detected in J(H) -/- pigs. When reared conventionally, J(H) -/- pigs succumbed to bacterial infections after weaning. These antibody (Ab)- and B cell-deficient pigs have significant value as models for both veterinary and human research to discriminate cellular and humoral protective immunity to infectious agents. Thus, these pigs may aid in vaccine development for infectious agents such as the pandemic porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and H1N1 swine flu. These pigs are also a first significant step towards generating a pig that expresses fully human, antigen-specific polyclonal Ab to target numerous incurable infectious diseases with high unmet clinical need.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies / genetics
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Antibodies / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Gene Targeting*
  • Genetic Engineering / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Poly A / genetics*
  • Swine
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Isotypes
  • Poly A