Sperm-Mediated Gene Transfer: Concepts and Controversies

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Sperm-mediated gene transfer (SMGT) represents a novel set of technologies for animal (or in the future, human) genetic modification using the sperm as a vector, as opposed to more traditional ...
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Sperm-Mediated Gene Transfer: Implications for Biotechnology and Medicine

Pp. 33-42 (10)

Michael Hölker, Nasser Ghanem, Dawit Tesfaye and Karl Schellander


Sperm mediated gene transfer (SMGT) was developed as an alternative technique for the production of transgenic animals. This technique is based on the ability of spermatozoa to take up exogenous genes of interest in the form of DNA molecules in vitro and deliver them to the oocyte during fertilisation. Thus, novel genetic information could be integrated into the embryo genome in order to alter the expression of specific genes of the offspring and subsequent generations. DNA uptake by spermatozoa is a very specific and well regulated mechanism. Although SMGT has been shown to be efficient, protocols for animal transgenesis are still under optimisation. Recent modifications of SMGT protocols, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection derived transgenesis (ICSI-Tr) and testis mediated gene transfer (TMGT), have been reported. Further understanding of the mechanisms involved in SMGT will enhance our understanding of the biology of fertilisation. Although not yet perfect, the technique of SMGT is of high biotechnological and medical potential. The use of SMGT to generate transgenic domestic animals could enhance their performance, and could also enable the production of proteins and pharmaceuticals within the milk of farm mammals. In addition, it could be used to generate animals as models for human diseases or to produce multitransgenic animals for xenotransplantation purpose. Finally, SMGT also holds promise in the context of human gene therapy in future.


Transgenic biotechnology, Gene transfer, Biotechnological research transge ICSI, Xenotransplantation, SMGT, Bioreactors for proteins, ICSI-Tr, Animal desease model, Transgenetic animals, Gene therapy.


University of Bonn, Germany and Cairo University, Egypt