Transgenic mice are produced by retroviral insertion, micro-injection in the early embryo, and recently by transfection of embryonic stem cells. Transgenic chickens were only made by retroviral vectors based on avian leukemia virus (ALV) and reticuloendotheliosis (REV) genomes. A replication-defective retroviral vector is preferentially used because these do not induce infectious virus. Since chickens are lacking endogenous REV sequences, a replication defective REV vector is most useful for practical application. Transgenic disease resistance is most likely obtained by blocking of viral receptors. By this approach recently transgenics with resistance against ALV infection were made at the Regional Poultry Disease Laboratory in East Lansing. Inhibition of virus replication by antisense DNA, which is complementary to viral mRNA, is promising for the future. Considerable research efforts still have to be made, however. Production of biomedical proteins will most likely be the first practical use of transgenic chickens. For the time being, vaccines will be used for the control of infectious diseases. The current live-virus vaccines will be replaced by inactivated (sub-unit) vaccines and thereafter by recombinant DNA vaccines based on viral vectors.
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