The Roslin Institute
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.