An Approach to Integrate Transgenes into Desirable Locus for Inducible Expression in Dopamine Neurons


Xiaoxi Zhuang, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago, Illinois


It has been shown by several groups that genetic material can be implanted into animal brains using harmless viral vectors. But how to restrict the expression of genetic material to specific tissues with the right amount is not possible yet. Dr. Xiaoxi Zhuang of the University of Chicago will make transgenic mice in an attempt to learn how to control the expression of implanted genes in the dopaminergic tissue of choice. Once he has the necessary data on the regulated expression of selected genes in dopamine neurons, he can then request additional funding from the National Institutes of Health and focus on regulating the expressions of potential therapeutic proteins. Pilot studies such as Dr. Zhuang's and that of Drs. Sidtis and Eidelberg using PET-scans are only supported by the PDF since most agencies do not fund such early hypotheses.

Progress Report (as of 3/2003)

Transgenic animals are created by inserting a specific gene or genes into (or deleting a gene or genes from), for example, mice or rats, and then examining their litters for the desired changes. Such animals were thus created by Dr. Xiaoxi Zhuang and his team at the University of Chicago, whose funded transgenic line of mice is of the "knock-in" kind, that is, they added an activator into the area of the dopamine transporter of the animals' brains. The number of scientific advancements in recent years due to the creations of transgenic animals is huge, providing a tremendous amount of knowledge about genes and their products, usually enzymes, and how these affect living creatures. Such animals are also used to test compounds that may one day be useful in treating diseases and/or their symptoms.