Door Anne Carlijn Kok
his is an egg cell. But it’s not just any egg cell: this is a fertilized egg cell from a lab mouse. The egg cell is being held in place by a so-called holder so that the needle – in the right side of the photo – can puncture it.
The needle is injecting DNA. ‘The injected egg cell is implanted back into a mouse with a phantom pregnancy – in other words, a surrogacy – and eventually, it will grow into an adult mouse’, says Bart van de Sluis, project leader of the Mouse Clinic for Aging Research at UMCG/RUG.
With this technique, they create transgene mice: genetically modified mice who bring a DNA fragment into their genome that is not from their own body. ‘With this technique, we change certain characteristics of the mouse’, Van de Sluis says. ‘We can do that in all of the cells of a mouse or in a specific organ. In this way, we can study the function of a gene in a specific biological process.’