Transgenic Research

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 51–76 | Cite as

Overexpressing ovotransferrin and avian β-defensin-3 improves antimicrobial capacity of chickens and poultry products

  • Caitlin A. CooperEmail author
  • Mark L. Tizard
  • Tamsyn Stanborough
  • Sean C. Moore
  • P. Scott Chandry
  • Kristie A. Jenkins
  • Terry G. Wise
  • Terri E. O’Neil
  • Daniel S. Layton
  • Kirsten R. Morris
  • Robert J. Moore
  • Narelle Fegan
  • Timothy J. Doran
Original Paper


Zoonotic and foodborne diseases pose a significant burden, decreasing both human and animal health. Modifying chickens to overexpress antimicrobials has the potential to decrease bacterial growth on poultry products and boost chicken innate immunity. Chickens overexpressing either ovotransferrin or avian β-defensin-3 (AvβD3) were generated using Tol-2 transposons. Transgene expression at the RNA and protein level was seen in egg white, breast muscle, and serum. There were significant differences in the immune cell populations in the blood, bursa, and spleen associated with transgene expression including an increased proportion of CD8+ cells in the blood of ovotransferrin and AvβD3 transgenic birds. Expression of the antimicrobials inhibited the in vitro growth of human and chicken bacterial pathogens and spoilage bacteria. For example, transgene expression significantly reduced growth of aerobic and coliform bacteria in breast muscle and decreased the growth of Salmonella enterica in egg white. Overall these results indicate that overexpression of antimicrobials in the chicken can impact the immune system and increase the antimicrobial capacity of poultry products.


Transgenic Overexpression Pathogens Poultry Antimicrobials Bacteria 



The authors would like to acknowledge Noel Collins, Chris Darcy, Barry Bellin, and Susanne Wilson for their assistance with animal care and handling. They would also like to thank Marie Collier, Edward Fox, James Murray, and Mark Ford for help carrying out experiments. This work was supported by the CSIRO Health and Biosecurity and Agriculture and Food business units as part of a CSIRO Office of the Chief Executive postdoctoral fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 87 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 109 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 141 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (PDF 314 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin A. Cooper
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark L. Tizard
    • 1
  • Tamsyn Stanborough
    • 2
  • Sean C. Moore
    • 2
  • P. Scott Chandry
    • 2
  • Kristie A. Jenkins
    • 1
  • Terry G. Wise
    • 1
  • Terri E. O’Neil
    • 1
  • Daniel S. Layton
    • 1
  • Kirsten R. Morris
    • 1
  • Robert J. Moore
    • 3
  • Narelle Fegan
    • 2
  • Timothy J. Doran
    • 1
  1. 1.CSIRO Health and BiosecurityGeelongAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Agriculture and FoodWerribeeAustralia
  3. 3.School of ScienceRMIT UniversityBundooraAustralia

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