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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 580463, 9 pages
Review Article

Expression Systems and Species Used for Transgenic Animal Bioreactors

1Laboratory Animal Center, Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710061, China
2Xi’an Jiaotong University Cardiovascular Research Center, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710061, China
3Department of Molecular Pathology, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Medicine and Engineering, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi 409-3898, Japan

Received 2 November 2012; Revised 15 January 2013; Accepted 17 February 2013

Academic Editor: James D. Murray

Copyright © 2013 Yanli Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Transgenic animal bioreactors can produce therapeutic proteins with high value for pharmaceutical use. In this paper, we compared different systems capable of producing therapeutic proteins (bacteria, mammalian cells, transgenic plants, and transgenic animals) and found that transgenic animals were potentially ideal bioreactors for the synthesis of pharmaceutical protein complexes. Compared with other transgenic animal expression systems (egg white, blood, urine, seminal plasma, and silkworm cocoon), the mammary glands of transgenic animals have enormous potential. Compared with other mammalian species (pig, goat, sheep, and cow) that are currently being studied as bioreactors, rabbits offer many advantages: high fertility, easy generation of transgenic founders and offspring, insensitivity to prion diseases, relatively high milk production, and no transmission of severe diseases to humans. Noticeably, for a small- or medium-sized facility, the rabbit system is ideal to produce up to 50 kg of protein per year, considering both economical and hygienic aspects; rabbits are attractive candidates for the mammary-gland-specific expression of recombinant proteins. We also reviewed recombinant proteins that have been produced by targeted expression in the mammary glands of rabbits and discussed the limitations of transgenic animal bioreactors.