Sprague Dawley Rag2-Null Rats Created from Engineered Spermatogonial Stem Cells Are Immunodeficient and Permissive to Human Xenografts

Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 Nov;17(11):2481-2489. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-18-0156. Epub 2018 Sep 11.


The rat is the preferred model for toxicology studies, and it offers distinctive advantages over the mouse as a preclinical research model including larger sample size collection, lower rates of drug clearance, and relative ease of surgical manipulation. An immunodeficient rat would allow for larger tumor size development, prolonged dosing and drug efficacy studies, and preliminary toxicologic testing and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies in the same model animal. Here, we created an immunodeficient rat with a functional deletion of the Recombination Activating Gene 2 (Rag2) gene, using genetically modified spermatogonial stem cells (SSC). We targeted the Rag2 gene in rat SSCs with TALENs and transplanted these Rag2-deficient SSCs into sterile recipients. Offspring were genotyped, and a founder with a 27 bp deletion mutation was identified and bred to homozygosity to produce the Sprague-Dawley Rag2 - Rag2 tm1Hera (SDR) knockout rat. We demonstrated that SDR rat lacks mature B and T cells. Furthermore, the SDR rat model was permissive to growth of human glioblastoma cell line subcutaneously resulting in successful growth of tumors. In addition, a human KRAS-mutant non-small cell lung cancer cell line (H358), a patient-derived high-grade serous ovarian cancer cell line (OV81), and a patient-derived recurrent endometrial cancer cell line (OV185) were transplanted subcutaneously to test the ability of the SDR rat to accommodate human xenografts from multiple tissue types. All human cancer cell lines showed efficient tumor uptake and growth kinetics indicating that the SDR rat is a viable host for a range of xenograft studies. Mol Cancer Ther; 17(11); 2481-9. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Base Sequence
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / deficiency*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Genome
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spermatogonia / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays*


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins