The bovine's long generation interval results in a delay of several years when evaluating mammary specific transgenes in genetically engineered animals. This experiment was conducted to evaluate the feasibility of reducing that waiting period. Lactation was induced in prepubertal bull and heifer calves as a means of predicting transgene behaviour during subsequent post-parturient lactations in the heifers themselves, and in daughters sired by the bulls. The animals carry a lactation-specific transgene encoding lysostaphin, an antimicrobial protein that kills Staphlococcus aureus, a mastitis-causing pathogen. Oestrogen, progesterone and dexamethasone were administered as previously described (Ball et al. 2000) to nine heifers (five transgenics) ranging in weight from 80 to 145 kg. Eight bull calves (seven transgenics) weighing 81–178 kg received additional oestrogen and progesterone injection prior to dexamethasone treatment. All nine heifers responded to the milk induction scheme yielding between 19 ml and 4·5 l over 5 d. Milk volume from the four responding males (30 μl to 2·5 ml) was significantly less than that harvested from females (P=0·025). Only bull calves >117 kg had a positive response. Lysostaphin was detected in all transgenic prepubertal heifers and in two transgenic prepubertal bull calves induced. A positive relationship was observed between lysostaphin's stapholytic activity in the two types of lactations (r2=0·907, P<0·001) thus providing a useful means of predicting subsequent lysostaphin production in post-partum milk.
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