Applications of avian transgenesis

ILAR J. 2010;51(4):353-61. doi: 10.1093/ilar.51.4.353.


The ability to introduce foreign DNA into the genome of an organism has proven to be one of the most powerful tools in modern biology. Methods for the manipulation of the animal genome have been developed at an impressive pace for 3 decades, but only in the past 5 years have useful tools for avian transgenesis emerged. The most efficient technique involves the use of replication-deficient lentiviral vectors to deliver foreign DNA into the avian germline. Although lentiviral-mediated transgenesis presents some constraints, progress in this area has garnered interest in both industry and academia for its potential applications in biological research, biotechnology, and agriculture. In this review we evaluate methods for the production of transgenic birds, focusing on the advantages and limitations of lentiviral-mediated transgenesis. We also provide an overview of future applications of this technology. The most exciting of these include disease-resistant transgenic poultry, genetically modified hens that produce therapeutic proteins in their eggs, and transgenic songbirds that serve as a model to study communication disorders. Finally, we discuss technological advances that will be necessary to make avian transgenesis a more versatile tool.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / genetics*
  • Birds / genetics*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Lentivirus / genetics