Expression of Lysostaphin in Milk of Transgenic Mice Affects the Growth of Neonates

Research paper by Abhijit Mitra, Kathleen S. Hruska, Olga Wellnitz, David E. Kerr, Anthony V. Capuco, Robert J. Wall

Indexed on: 01 Oct '03Published on: 01 Oct '03Published in: Transgenic Research


As an initial step towards enhancing mastitis resistance in dairy animals, we generated BLG-Lys transgenic mice that secrete lysostaphin, a potent antistaphylococcal protein, in their milk. In the current study, we continue our assessment of lysostaphin as a suitable antimicrobial protein for mastitis resistance and have investigated mammary gland development and function in three lines of transgenic mice. As the lines were propagated, there was a tendency for fewer BLG-Lys litters to survive to weaning (51% as compared to 90% for nontransgenic lines, p = 0.080). Nontransgenic pups fostered on dams from these three lines exhibited diminished growth rates during the first week of lactation. Rates of gain became comparable to pups on nontransgenic dams at later time points. Initial slow growth also resulted in decreased weaning weights for pups nursed by transgenic dams (15.35±0.27 g) when compared to pups delivered and nursed by nontransgenic dams (18.61 ± 0.61 g; p < 0.001), but the effect was temporary, as similar weights were attained by adulthood. Milk yield at peak lactation was not different between BLG-Lys (0.79 ± 0.33 g) and nontransgenic (0.91 ± 0.38 g; p = 0.166) dams. Histological examination of the transgenic mammary glands during gestation revealed no differences when compared to control glands; however, at early lactational stages, the BLG-Lys glands exhibited less alveolar area than control glands and a delay in lobulo-alveolar maturation. The results clearly demonstrate reduced growth of neonates on BLG-Lys dams; whether the poor pup performance can be attributed to delayed mammary development or the gland development merely reflects reduced suckling stimuli from the pups remains to be determined.