A genetic program for deletion of foreign DNA from the mammalian genome

Heidi Scrable, Peter J. Stambrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Mammalian genomes are in constant jeopardy of invasion by prokaryotic DNA sequences because of their extensive exposure to bacteria; however, mammalian genomes appear to be protected from horizontal transmission of bacterial DNA. Transgenic mice provide a convenient model system for investigating the capacity of mammalian genomes in vivo to retain, silence, and/or reject foreign DNAs. We have previously reported that bacterial genes encoding the Lac repressor (lacI) are subject to sequence-dependent methylation and silencing in the transgenic mouse. In this paper, we report that bacterially derived lacI transgenes, but not their mammalian counterparts, can also be eliminated from the somatic cell DNA of affected animals. This somatic instability is heritable, strain-dependent, and conferred in cis. Our data are consistent with a model of genome surveillance in the mouse which can lead to loss of foreign DNA and which may be analogous to restriction-modification systems that maintain the integrity of the bacterial genome. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-237
Number of pages13
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 19 1999


  • Foreign DNA
  • Mammalian genome
  • Transgene deletion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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