Transgenic mice expressing a partially deleted gene for type I procollagen (COL1A1). A breeding line with a phenotype of spontaneous fractures and decreased bone collagen and mineral.
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A line of transgenic mice was prepared that expressed moderate levels of an internally deleted human gene for the pro alpha 1(I) chain of type I procollagen. The gene construct was modeled after a sporadic in-frame deletion of the human gene that produced a lethal variant of osteogenesis imperfecta by causing biosynthesis of shortened pro alpha 1(I) chains. 89 transgenic mice from the line were examined. About 6% had a lethal phenotype with extensive fractures at birth, and 33% had fractures but were viable. The remaining 61% of the transgenic mice had no apparent fractures as assessed by x ray examination on the day of birth. Brother-sister matings produced eight litters in which approximately 40% of the mice had the lethal phenotype, an observation indicating that expression of the exogenous gene was more lethal in putative homozygous mice from the line. Examination of femurs from the transgenic mice indicated that the bones were significantly shorter in length and had a decrease in wet weight, mineral content, and collagen content. However, there was no statistically significant change in the mineral to collagen ratio. Biomechanical measurements on femurs from the mice at 6 wk indicated a decrease in force and energy to failure. There was also a decrease in strain to failure and an increase in Young's modulus of elasticity, observations indicating increased brittleness of bone matrix. The results suggested that the transgenic mice may be an appropriate model for testing potential therapies for osteogenesis imperfecta. They may also be a useful model for studying osteoporosis.