World’s First Transgenic Tree Shrew Generated in China


The transgenic tree shrew

The world’s first transgenic tree shrew has been produced in a lab in southwest China’s Yunnan province, according to a research paper published in a Chinese academic journal.

“Cell Research,” a famed Chinese academic journal, is reporting the creation of the world’s first transgenic tree shrew by Kunming Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The research is said to be important for humanity.

Despite looking like rodents, tree shrews are actually primates, as humans are.

Tree shrews are widely used in scientific experiments, as they’re cheaper to maintain and have a shorter reproduction cycle than other primates.


A. cultivating 40-generation tree shrew spermatogonial stem cell lines; B. stably expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) Of transgenic tree shrews.

On December 23, the journal Cell Research published online an article titled “Long-term propagation of tree shrew spermatogonial stem cells” by Zheng Ping, research team of Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Zhao Xudong and Yao Yonggang. In vitro and in vitro culture of tree shrew spermatogonial stem cells successfully obtained the world’s first transgenic tree shrews, to achieve the objective of this study is to establish a tree shrew spermatogonial stem cell culture system, a major breakthrough in gene modification of tree shrew.

The tree shrew is a kind of experimental animal with important potential application value. Compared with rodent experimental animals, tree shrews are more closely related to primates in their evolutionary status and physiological and biochemical characteristics. Moreover, compared with primates, tree shrew has many advantages in biomedical research, including small size, short reproductive cycle and low feeding cost. However, the lack of genetic manipulation seriously restricted the tree shrews as experimental animals, the widespread application and promotion. Since the problems of early embryo collection and embryo transfer in tree shrews are not solved at present, genetic modification of tree shrew spermatogonial stem cells may provide a new approach for genetic manipulation of tree shrew.

Under the guidance of researcher Zheng Ping of Kunming Institute of Zoology, Dr. Li Zhaohui, the first successful screening of cell surface markers Thy1 can be used to enrich spermatogonial stem cells in tree shrew testes and found Wnt / ß-catenin signal pathway and tree shrew In order to maintain the proliferation and stem cell characteristics of spermatogonial stem cells, testicular sertoli cells have been improved in vitro and expanded a number of stem cell lines of tree shrews with long-term stable subculture. Figure A). These in vitro long-term cultured shrew spermatogonial stem cells can stably express foreign genes (Figure B), can also be used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Genetically modified tree shrew spermatogonial stem cells were transplanted into the testes of the male Receptor tree shrews, which can be genetically modified to produce genetically modified progeny tree shrews (Figure C, D).

This work solves the bottleneck problem of lack of gene manipulation technique in tree shrew research, and lay a good foundation for the extensive application of tree shrew as new experimental animal. Li Zhaohui is the first author of the paper, Zheng Ping, Zhao Xudong and Yao Yonggang as co-author. The work was funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan Province and the Kunming Institute of Zoology “135” project funding.

Article Credit: CRIENGLISH and SINA