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Crop Biotech Update

Russia's First Gene-Edited Calf Turns One

July 7, 2021
Photographs of (a) the procedure of somatic cell transfer (shown with the arrow) into the perivitelline space of an enucleated oocyte, (b) cloned bovine embryos used for transplantation to recipient animals, and (c) cloned calf (obtained in Russia for the first time). Photo Source: Ernst Federal Science Center for Animal Husbandry, Podolsk, Russia

Researchers from the Ernst Federal Science Center for Animal Husbandry, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), Moscow State University, and their colleagues have produced the first viable cloned calf in Russia – and she recently turned one.

The team led by Galina Singina at the Ernst Federal Science Center for Animal Husbandry managed to clone the calf using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), with embryonic fibroblasts as donors of nuclei. The calf was born on April 10, 2020, with a birth weight of 63 kilograms. She is now an adult animal weighing over 410 kilograms with a regular reproductive cycle. Until she turned one, she was kept in a separate room with her mother, but since May, she has been on daily pasture with the other cows of the Institute.

In a related experiment, the research team was able to knock out the genes responsible for beta-lactoglobulin, a protein causing milk allergy in humans, in the hopes of creating gene-edited cows with hypoallergenic milk. The researchers used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to knock out PAEP and LOC100848610, two genes representing beta-lactoglobulin in the bovine genome, and obtain a line of gene-edited embryonic fibroblasts. Beta-lactoglobulin is not an easy target as there are in fact four copies of the genes in a cow's genome (two of each gene) that need to be inactivated. The team was able to inactivate three out of four.

For more details, read the article on the Skoltech website.

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