Catfish DNA supplemented with alligator genes

(ORDO NEWS) — American scientists have received a GM line of catfish that are more resistant to infections.

The corresponding gene was borrowed from alligators and allows them to synthesize a protein with antimicrobial properties.

Perhaps in a few years such fish will receive all the necessary permits for breeding and sale.

Common catfish, clariid catfish and other representatives of the order of catfish are not only actively caught from water bodies, but also bred in captivity.

At the same time, infections remain a serious problem for fish farms, especially dangerous at a high density of animals in cages.

According to some reports, up to 40 percent of farmed fish die without hitting store shelves. Geneticists from the American Auburn University are solving this problem.

Recently, they managed to introduce into the genome of commercial channel catfish ( Ictalurus punctatus ) a DNA fragment borrowed from alligators that helps the fish resist a number of common infections.

The gene of interest to scientists encodes the protein cathelicidin ( cathelicidin ), which accumulates in immune cells and is used to protect against pathogenic bacteria.

The corresponding genes are found in many groups of animals, including both mammals and fish.

However, in alligators ( Alligator sinensis ) they are especially active, which helps them fight the infection of wounds that these aggressive reptiles regularly get when fighting each other.

Catfish DNA supplemented with alligator genes 2
Top – GM catfish, bottom – common

Dunham and his colleagues used CRISPR technology to transfer the cathelicidin-coding fragment to a specific region of the catfish genome.

This site is associated with the synthesis of luteinizing hormone, necessary for the functioning of the reproductive system.

This approach made it possible to “kill two birds with one stone” by obtaining GM fish that not only synthesize the alligator antimicrobial protein, but are also incapable of self-reproduction, which makes them safe for the environment even if they get from captivity to nature.

Additional experiments have confirmed that GM-modified catfish are indeed more resistant to common bacterial infections.

According to scientists, when they encounter such microbes, they survive two to five times more often.

And if necessary, to obtain a new generation of such sterile fish, it is enough for them to inject luteinizing hormone, ensuring the normal maturation of germ cells.

The authors of the work hope that over time their GM catfish will pass all the necessary tests and receive approval for use in breeding and food.

Recall that so far only one GM line of fish has been given such approval – salmon created by the American company AquaBounty and supplemented with a gene that allows them to grow almost twice as fast as usual.

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