A recent study published in Nature demonstrated that transgenic monkeys overexpressing human autism-related gene MECP2 exhibited autism-like behaviors and germ-line transmission. This work was performed by researchers in Dr. QIU Zilong’s Lab and Dr. SUN Qiang’s team at the Institute of Neuroscience, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. This work has successfully constructed a monkey model overexpressing human autism-related gene MECP2. Transgenic monkeys exhibited autism-like behavior, and germ-line transmission of exogenous transgene to offspring was successful, as assayed by genetic and behavior tests.
The inclusion of genetically modified (GM) plants in the human diet has raised concerns about the possible transfer of transgenes from GM plants to intestinal microflora and enterocytes. The persistence in the human gut of DNA from dietary GM plants is unknown. Here we study the survival of the transgene epsps from GM soya in the small intestine of human ileostomists (i.e., individuals in which the terminal ileum is resected and digesta are diverted from the body via a stoma to a colostomy bag). The amount of transgene that survived passage through the small bowel varied among individuals, with a maximum of 3.7% recovered at the stoma of one individual. The transgene did not survive passage through the intact gastrointestinal tract of human subjects fed GM soya. Three of seven ileostomists showed evidence of low-frequency gene transfer from GM soya to the microflora of the small bowel before their involvement in these experiments. As this low level of epsps in the intestinal microflora did not increase after consumption of the meal containing GM soya, we conclude that gene transfer did not occur during the feeding experiment.