Identification of transgenic mice by PCR analysis of saliva


As an alternative to surgically obtaining samples (e.g., tail or tissue biopsy, toe dock, or blood sampling) from weanling mice to screen for transgene integration or other genetic monitoring procedures, we offer a simpler, nonsurgical method. A small amount of saliva, obtained from weanling mice by oral wash using a plastic pipet tip, contains enough oral epithelial cells and lymphocytes to yield sufficient DNA for nested primer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. The procedure can be repeated many times with minimal stress to the animal, in contrast to tissue biopsy procedures such as tail cutting. Sample analysis is rapid and straightforward; saliva is applied to sample collection paper and then purified using a solid phase DNA purification system. The paper, containing purified DNA, is added directly to PCR cocktail for the first round of amplification. For weanling mice, in the second round of amplification, a small amount of product from the first round is removed and added to PCR cocktail containing the second set of primers. With adult mice, an adequate volume of saliva may be obtained (dependent upon the sensitivity of the particular reaction) to eliminate the need for second-round amplification with nested primers. This technique is reliable, does not require organic solvents, and is more humane than protocols currently in use. Furthermore, this technique could replace hundreds of thousands of surgical biopsies on rodents annually, which are performed for both transgene determination and genetic monitoring procedures.


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Irwin, M., Moffatt, R. & Pinkert, C. Identification of transgenic mice by PCR analysis of saliva. Nat Biotechnol 14, 1146–1148 (1996).

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