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Open Access Research article

Homologous illegitimate random integration of foreign DNA into the X chromosome of a transgenic mouse line

Bowen Yan1, Defa Li2 and Kemian Gou1*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory for Agrobiotechnology, College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China

2 College of Animal Sciences & Technologies, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China

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BMC Molecular Biology 2010, 11:58  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-11-58

Published: 13 August 2010



It is not clear how foreign DNA molecules insert into the host genome. Recently, we have produced transgenic mice to investigate the role of the fad2 gene in the conversion of oleic acid to linoleic acid. Here we describe an integration mechanism of fad2 transgene by homologous illegitimate random integration.


We confirmed that one fad2 line had a sole integration site on the X chromosome according to the inheritance patterns. Mapping of insertion sequences with thermal asymmetric interlaced and conventional PCR revealed that the foreign DNA was inserted into the XC1 region of the X chromosome by a homologous illegitimate replacement of an entire 45,556-bp endogenous genomic region, including the ovarian granulosa cell tumourigenesis-4 allele. For 5' and 3' junction sequences, there were very short (3-7 bp) common sequences in the AT-rich domains, which may mediate the recognition of the homologous arms between the transgene and the host genome. In addition, analysis of gene transcription indicated that the transgene was expressed in all tested fad2 tissues and that its transcription level in homozygous female tissues was about twice as high as in the heterozygous female (p < 0.05).


Taken together, the results indicated that the foreign fad2 behaved like an X-linked gene and that foreign DNA molecules were inserted into the eukaryotic genome through a homologous illegitimate random integration.