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Modified cloning strategy succeeds with rabbits
  

 

By modifying the method used to clone sheep, pigs and mice, scientists have created genetic clones of rabbits, a species that until now has proved difficult to clone. Success came when the researchers made adjustments based on information about early embryonic development in rabbits and the proper timing for transferring embryos into foster mothers.


Confocal images of unicellular NT embryos immunolabeled with the anti-a-tubulin antibody (green) and DNA stained with propidium iodide (red). View full

The modified strategy used to clone the rabbits produced several fertile and apparently healthy clones with an efficiency rate comparable of that of other mammals. Jean-Paul Renard, of the French Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Jouy-en-Josas, led the research.

The study "indicates that cloning can probably be carried out successfully in any mammalian species by taking into account physiological features of their oocytes and embryos," the researchers write in Nature Biotechnology. Rabbits are closer relatives of humans than mice, and they may be useful models of human disease, particularly if cloning can be used in concert with other genetic tools.

In the technique used to clone other mammals including sheep, pigs and mice—called nuclear transfer—researchers transfer DNA from a donor cell into an egg whose nucleus has been removed. The egg is then implanted in a foster mother.


Rabbits born from somatic nuclear transfer. View full

In February, researchers revealed the existence of a cloned kitten, called ‘Cc:’, also created through nuclear transfer. The kitten had different markings from her birth mother, demonstrating the role of non-genetic factors in traits such as coat color.

See related GNN article
»‘Cc:’ The first cloned kitten

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Chesné, P. et al. Cloned rabbits produced by nuclear transfer from adult somatic cells. Nat Biotechnol 20, 366-369 (April 2002).
 

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