Failure of founder transgenic male mice to transmit an attenuated HSV thymidine kinase transgene results from mosaicism and sperm competition

A R Ellison, J D West, N Spears, A Murray, C A Everett, J O Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previously we found that male mice carrying either of two attenuated herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase reporter transgenes displayed low level ectopic expression of the reporter gene in the testis and, although fertile, exhibited reduced fecundity. In contrast to males of later generations, many of the founder males failed to transmit the transgene to their progeny. This led to the suggestion that these fertile non-transmitting males are mosaic, with the sperm developing from the non-transgenic lineage outperforming those from the heterozygous transgenic lineage. Here we present the results of artificial insemination (AI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) experiments designed to test this hypothesis. Albino CF(1) hybrid females were inseminated with mixtures of equal numbers of sperm from heterozygous transgenic (HT) males (equivalent to C57BL/6 x CBAF(2)) and CF(1) males. Similar mixed inseminations were carried out in parallel with sperm from non-transgenic (NT) siblings of the HT mice and 13-day fetuses were scored by eye color to determine their paternity. The pooled data from five experiments gave ratios of CF(1) to HT and CF(1) to NT offspring of 8.13 and 0.22 respectively, implying a calculated HT to NT ratio of 0.027. This indicates that, in competition with each other, the NT sperm would be almost 40 times more successful in fertilization than the HT sperm. Smaller differences were observed between HT and NT when AI was performed with unmixed sperm, consistent with the fertility of HT non-founder males. However, in five IVF experiments carried out with unmixed sperm, 142/212 oocytes exposed to NT sperm were activated and divided, while only 8/226 oocytes treated with HT sperm reached the two-cell stage. This confirms that HT sperm are defective and indicates that the IVF method employed amplified these deficiencies, which may have only a small effect upon natural reproduction when the HT sperm are not in competition with normal sperm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-55
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Fertilization
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Insemination, Artificial
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mosaicism
  • Oocytes
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Simplexvirus
  • Sperm Motility
  • Spermatozoa
  • Thymidine Kinase
  • Transgenes


Dive into the research topics of 'Failure of founder transgenic male mice to transmit an attenuated HSV thymidine kinase transgene results from mosaicism and sperm competition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this