Cardiac phenotype induced by a dysfunctional α 1C transgene: a general problem for the transgenic approach

Channels (Austin). 2011 Mar-Apr;5(2):138-47. doi: 10.4161/chan.5.2.14314. Epub 2011 Mar 1.


Based on stable integration of recombinant DNA into a host genome, transgenic technology has become an important genetic engineering methodology. An organism whose genetic characteristics have been altered by the insertion of foreign DNA is supposed to exhibit a new phenotype associated with the function of the transgene. However, successful insertion may not be sufficient to achieve specific modification of function. In this study we describe a strain of transgenic mouse, G7-882, generated by incorporation into the mouse genome of human CaV 1.2 α(1C) cDNA deprived of 3'-UTR to exclude transcription. We found that, in response to chronic infusion of isoproterenol, G7-882 develops dilated cardiomyopathy, a misleading "transgenic artifact" compatible with the expected function of the incorporated "correct" transgene. Specifically, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we found that chronic β-adrenergic stimulation of G7-882 mice caused left ventricular hypertrophy and aggravated development of dilated cardiomyopathy, although no significant changes in the kinetics, density and voltage dependence of the calcium current were observed in G7-882 cardiomyocytes as compared to cells from wild type mice. This result illustrates the possibility that even when a functional transgene is expressed, an observed change in phenotype may be due to the artifact of "incidental incorporation" leading to misleading conclusions. To exclude this possibility and thus provide a robust tool for exploring biological function, the new transgenic phenotype must be replicated in several independently generated transgenic strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / genetics*
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated / pathology
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / pathology
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology*
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine / methods
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phenotype
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Transgenes*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • G7 protein, Sus scrofa
  • L-type calcium channel alpha(1C)
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Receptors, IgG
  • Isoproterenol