Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research
Director: P. Jeremy Wang, MD, PhD
In the last 30 years, techniques have been developed to enable the modification of individual genes in animals and plants and thereby precisely alter inherited traits. These genetically altered animals and plants are called transgenic and are of enormous value in medicine and agriculture. An improved understanding of the basic processes governing germ cell and embryo development and of the biology of gametes (sperm and oocytes) and embryonic stem cells will enable us to improve reproductive efficiency, generate animal models of human and animal disease and help provide the knowledge base for regenerative medicine, as well as toward the treatment of infertility.
Scientists at the School of Veterinary Medicine performed pioneering studies in the development of transgenic techniques and were responsible for production of the first transgenic mice and farm animals. Capitalizing on years of foundation research, the Center for Animal Transgenesis and Germ Cell Research was established in 1998. Our primary mission is to undertake innovative research on stem cell biology, germ cell development, and animal transgenesis. A major objective of this research is to improve the health and productivity of domestic animals by genetic modification. Intellectually, our center interacts with Penn Institute of Regenerative Medicine (IRM) and Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health (CRRWH). Our center co-sponsors the weekly seminar series with CRRWH.
Current studies at the Center are focused on exploring the biology of germ line stem cells, as well as male and female gametes:
· Study and manipulation of male germ line stem cells has implications for control of fertility, large animal transgenesis and genetic preservation
· Analysis of the molecular mechanisms involved in chromatin dynamics, homologous recombination, and chromosome segregation during meiosis will elucidate causes for infertility and birth defects as a result of aneuploidy
· Investigation and development of optimum cell culture media used for germ cell lines both in the laboratory and for use on the farm as assisted reproductive technologies.
· Study of molecular mechanisms of mammalian sperm motility and testicular degeneration has implications for treatment of infertility and contraception
· Understanding cell cycle regulatory mechanisms and spindle function during the progression of meiosis in mammalian oocytes will shed light on potential maternal factors that contribute to pregnancy loss and defects in embryonic development
· Learning about chromatin remodeling processes and preservation of genomic integrity during germ cell development and fertilization—e.g., as facilitated by poly (ADP-ribose) metabolism—will yield important information on the pathobiology of infertility and tumorigenesis