College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Animal & Avian Sciences

Timothy Sheets Receives Young Investigator Award

Timothy Sheets presents his research at the 2018 Annual Symposium
Photo Credit: 
Melissa Rogers

Timothy Sheets, doctoral candidate in Dr. Bhanu Telugu's laboratory, was
recently selected for the young investigator travel award to present his
research during the Large Animal Genetic Engineering Summit in Park City,
Utah. His research focuses on eliminating the gene Neurogenin 3 (NGN3) by
targeting the genome of the domestic pig. He and his co-authors first,
performed microinjection into zygotes and embryo transfer into surrogate
gilts to create NGN3-edited offspring. Then, they used cells derived from one
offspring, with a homozygous deletion for NGN3, as a donor cell for somatic
cell nuclear transfer (cloning) in order to generate three live cloned
animals, with a condition resembling type 1 diabetes, lacking all endocrine
cell types of the pancreas.

This study demonstrates for the first time, that CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of the
NGN3 gene in pigs results in a loss of all four major hormone producing cell
types of the pancreas. NGN3 ablated animals offer hope towards future goals
for growing human NGN3 expressing cells within embryos derived from mutant
pigs. The result would be human endocrine producing cells, that can be
isolated from the pig organ, for cell transplantation in diabetic patients.

This study is the first to target NGN3 in any species using the CRISPR/Cas9
system.

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