01 December 2022

Edited Cows

Scientists have developed an effective way to edit the genome of cows

Regional Newspaper

Scientists of the Ural Federal Agrarian Research Center of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Yekaterinburg) and the Institute of Gene Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) investigated ways to modify sections of cow DNA and found an effective editing system – using an adeno-associated virus. The results of the scientific study are published in the November journal "Theriogenology" (Krivonogova et al., AAV infection of bovine embryos: Novel, simple and effective tool for genome editing).

The purpose of genome editing was to obtain cattle embryos with altered genes. Gene editing is a modern approach that allows you to quickly obtain organisms with the required characteristics, for example, milk composition, muscle volume or resistance to infectious diseases.

The method of transduction (the process of transferring DNA between cells using viruses) in genome editing technology is relatively simple – it does not require complex equipment and special conditions. It can be carried out near farms in laboratories with basic equipment.

"Various types of viruses can be used to deliver genetic material into the cell: retroviruses, adenoviruses and adenoassociated viruses. The latter have a smaller size compared to the rest, so it is easier to penetrate into the embryo. At the same time, they are a secure virus platform. We examined five different serotypes of the adenoassociated virus and identified the most effective AAV2 serotype," said Anna Sergeevna Krivonogova, project manager, Leading researcher at URFANITS UrO RAS, Doctor of Biological Sciences.


Scientists have found that the particle size of the adenoassociated virus allows it to penetrate through the special shell of the mammalian embryo without damage and effectively deliver genetic material. Using this method, it is possible to change DNA fragments, for example, those responsible for susceptibility to diseases or milk production.

To test the adeno-associated virus as a promising tool for genome editing in cattle embryos, scientists have constructed a recombinant virus with a green glowing protein (GFP) gene. When infected with embryos, this fragment was embedded in the DNA of the embryo and caused a glow when exposed to blue light. After selecting the most effective type of adeno-associated virus (AAV2), it was used to edit the gene responsible for susceptibility to certain diseases.

The research was carried out during 2020-2022 at the expense of a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 19-76-10022).

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