Expression of recombinant Hirudin in transgenic mice milk driven by the goat β-casein promoter

Chon Ho Yen, Chi Kai Yang, I. Chung Chen, Yin Shen Lin, Chih-Sheng Lin, Sen Chu, Ching Fu Tu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Hirudin, isolated from the leech Hirudo medicinalis, inhibits thrombin directly and several expression systems have been used to produce recombinant Hirudin (rHirudin) for pharmaceutical purposes. A DNA fragment containing the Hirudin coding sequence and goat β-casein secretion signal was chemically synthesized in this study. The synthetic DNA then was further constructed into a goat β-casein expression vector for mouse transgenesis. Four lines of transgenic mice were successfully developed and one line showed a meaningful anti-thrombin activity of 40,000 anti-thrombin units (ATU)/mL in their milk. In this animal line, Hirudin mRNA was found in samples of uterus and kidney with insignificant anti-thrombin activity (≤ 280 ATU/g wet tissue); however, mammary glands showed a higher activity of 780 ATU/g wet tissue. Transgenic mice showed no evident physical abnormality. The purified rHirudin was further analyzed by amino acid analysis and was found to contain a tyrosine O-sulfate residue that is absent in rHirudin expression either through Escherichia coli or yeast host systems. Experimental results demonstrated that the β-casein-promoted Hirudin transgene could be successfully expressed in a murine model and may be applicable to large mammals such as livestock for mass production of rHirudin for pharmaceuticals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1077
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2008


  • Goat β-casein promoter
  • Hirudin
  • Transgenic mice
  • Tyrosine sulfate

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