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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Biosciences & Biotechnology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #432327

Research Project: CRISPR/Cas Mediated Gene-Targeting to Reduce Milk Allergens and Mastitis in Goats

Location: Animal Biosciences & Biotechnology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-31440-001-009-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 15, 2017
End Date: Apr 14, 2019

Goat meat and milk is a major source of livelihood of small farmers. It is the only source of protein for many people in developing and underdeveloped countries. This industry is rapidly expanding in southern US due to its nutritional benefits, manageable operations, and influx of Africans, Hispanics and Asian population in recent years. Production losses occur for both dairy and meat farmers due to mammary gland infections (mastitis) affecting the health of both mother and the suckling kids, in addition to loss of marketable milk. Although, goat milk is superior to cow nutritionally and is used for infant formula in humans, presence of beta-lactoglobin (BLG), a known allergen for humans, makes it less desirable for human consumption. Therefore, there are two major scientific objectives of this project: the first is to use genome editing tools, specifically CRISPR/Cas system to generate a goat knockout for BLG gene (so as to eliminate human allergen in milk), that resembles a naturally occurring mutation with no foreign DNA. The secord is to establish and validate genome editing tools to create a transgenic goat expressing a peptidoglycan hydrolase enzyme (antibacterial protein) in mammary epithelial cells (expressed from the mammary-specific BLG gene, to prevent mastitis) for future investigation of the animals’ ability to defend against a mastitis pathogen challenge.

Goat meat and milk is a major source of livelihood of small farmers. It is the only source of protein for the proposed research project will use genome editing technology to create two goat models: 1. a beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) gene-edited goat that will remove the BLG allergen from milk for human consumption and 2. insert a transgene that will help protect the goat from mastitis. The long term goal is to create a goat genome editing center of excellence at Fort Valley State University (FVSU). The FVSU faculty member will be trained at ARS in the design and creation of the molecular reagents needed for genome editing in goat, and then the ARS-UMD team will visit FVSU and train the FVSU faculty in the necessary embryo harvest, injection and transfer skills to create genome edited goat models. This is a true blending of skills from three different labs. The FVSU goat genome editing center is expected to be a huge benefit to the US agricultural community.