Reconstitution of UCP1 using CRISPR/Cas9 in the white adipose tissue of pigs decreases fat deposition and improves thermogenic capacity

Research Highlight

CRISPR pigs are leaner and cheaper

© Carlo Van Stek/EyeEm/Getty

© Carlo Van Stek/EyeEm/Getty

CRISPR-Cas9 has gone the whole hog and created reduced-fat pigs that withstand the cold.

Pigs lack UCP1, a key protein that controls body temperature in most animals, so they must pile on fat or perish in the cold. Providing extra food and heating makes pig farming expensive. A team led by researchers from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences used CRISPR-Cas 9 — a precise gene-editing tool — to take UCP1 from mice and add it to pig embryos they implanted into female pigs. The resulting piglets retained body warmth better when exposed to the cold and put on 25 per cent less fat as adults than pigs without UCP1.

Cold-resilient, slender swine could cut the cost of pig farming and become a source of cheap, lean meat.

Supported content

  1. PNAS 114, E9474-E948 (2017). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1707853114
Institutions Share
State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology (SRLab), IOZ CAS, China 0.39
Savaid Medical School, UCAS, China 0.30
CAS Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, IOZ CAS, China 0.07
Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB), CAS, China 0.07
School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom (UK) 0.07
College of Agriculture, YBU, China 0.04
Institute of Animal Science, CAAS, China 0.04
College of Life Sciences, UCAS, China 0.02