Professor Helen Sang

The Roslin Institute

Research Interests

Our interests are in the development of transgenic technologies for genetic modification of the chicken and the applications of these technologies. We have developed an efficient method for production of transgenic chickens using lentiviral vectors (McGrew et al. 2004) and have used it for a range of applications, from basic biology to biotechnology. The chick is an excellent model for the study of vertebrate development and we have generated transgenic lines that express green fluorescent protein (GFP) and membrane-localised GFP at high levels in all cells of the developing embryo (McGrew et al. 2008; Rozbiki et al., 2015). These embryos can be used for in vivo imaging and in grafting experiments for lineage analysis during embryogenesis, for example Zhao et al. 2010, Pearson et al. 2011. We are extending this approach by developing additional fluorescent reporter lines and by using transgenesis to study specific aspects of development, using lineage-restricted promoters e.g. development of the MacReporter lines, Balic et al., 2012. There are many other potential applications of transgenesis in the chicken, particularly in biotechnology and conferring beneficial traits in production chickens. We have shown that therapeutic proteins can be synthesised as a component of egg white, using transgenes derived from regulatory sequences of the ovalbumin gene (the major egg white protein gene) and human βinterferon (Lillico et al., 2007) and continue to develop this approach. The potential for genetic modification to be used to confer resistance to avian influenza was shown in a collaboration with Dr. Laurence Tiley (Cambridge University, Lyall et al. 2011). The advent of genome editing technologies that allow us to make small genetic changes and introduce transgenes by homologous recombination will enable us to build on these approaches for a wide range of applications.


Selected Publications

  • Mike McGrew, Adrian Sherman, Simon G. Lillico, Lorna Taylor, Helen Sang. 2010. Functional conservation between rodents and chicken of regulatory sequences driving skeletal muscle gene expression in transgenic chickens. BMC Developmental Biology Vol: 10 Pages: -. More»
  • Malcolm Fisher, Helen Downie, Monique C. M. Welten, Irene Delgado, Andrew Bain, Thorsten Planzer, Adrian Sherman, Helen Sang, Cheryll Tickle. 2011. Comparative Analysis of 3D Expression Patterns of Transcription Factor Genes and Digit Fate Maps in the Developing Chick Wing. PLoS ONE Vol: 6 Pages: -. More»
  • M. Towers, J. Signolet, A. Sherman, H. Sang, C. Tickle. 2011. Insights into bird wing evolution and digit specification from polarizing region fate maps. Nature Communications Vol: 2. More»
  • C. A. Pearson, K. Ohyama, L. Manning, S. Aghamohammadzadeh, H. Sang, M. Placzek. 2011. FGF-dependent midline-derived progenitor cells in hypothalamic infundibular development. Development Vol: 138 Pages: 2613-2624. More»
  • Mike McGrew, Adrian Sherman, Simon Lillico, F. M. Ellard, P. A. Radcliffe, Hazel Gilhooley, K. A. Mitrophanous, N. Cambray, V. Wilson, H. Sang. 2008. Localised axial progenitor cell populations in the avian tail bud are not committed to a posterior Hox identity. Development Vol: 135 Pages: 2289-2299. More»
  • J. Lyall, R. M. Irvine, A. Sherman, T. J. McKinley, A. Nunez, A. Purdie, L. Outtrim, I. H. Brown, G. Rolleston-Smith, H. Sang, L. Tiley. 2011. Suppression of avian influenza transmission in genetically modified chickens. Science Vol: 331 Pages: 223-226. More»