Modeling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in hSOD1 transgenic swine

Neurodegener Dis. 2014;13(4):246-54. doi: 10.1159/000353472. Epub 2013 Oct 23.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that occurs in two clinically indistinguishable forms: sporadic (SALS) and familial (FALS), the latter linked to several gene mutations, mostly inheritable in a dominant manner. Nearly 20% of FALS forms are linked to mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene. Research on ALS relies on transgenic models and particularly on mice carrying a glycine-to-alanine conversion at the 93rd codon (G93A) of the hSOD1 gene. Although G93A transgenic mice have been widely employed in clinical trials and basic research, doubts have been recently raised from numerous reliable sources about their suitability to faithfully reproduce human disease. Besides, the scientific community has already foreseen swine as an attractive and alternative model to nonhuman primates for modeling human diseases due to closer anatomical, physiological and biochemical features of swine rather than rodents to humans. On this basis, we have produced the first swine ALS model by in vitro transfection of cultured somatic cells combined with somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). To achieve this goal we developed a SOD1(G93A) (superoxide dismutase 1 mutated in Gly93-Ala) vector, capable of promoting a high and stable transgene expression in primary porcine adult male fibroblasts (PAF). After transfection, clonal selection and transgene expression level assessment, selected SOD1(G93A) PAF colonies were used as nuclei donors in SCNT procedures. SOD1(G93A) embryos were transferred in recipient sows, and pregnancies developed to term. A total of 5 piglets survived artificial hand raising and weaning and developed normally, reaching adulthood. Preliminary analysis revealed transgene integration and hSOD1(G93A) expression in swine tissues and 360° phenotypical characterization is ongoing. We believe that our SOD1(G93A) swine would provide an essential bridge between the fundamental work done in rodent models and the reality of treating ALS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics*
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1
  • Swine / genetics*


  • SOD1 protein, human
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1