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

Caitlin A. Cooper, 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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-76
Number of pages26
JournalTransgenic Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobials
  • Bacteria
  • Overexpression
  • Pathogens
  • Poultry
  • Transgenic

Cite this