The rat is an important animal model in biomedical research, but gene targeting technology is not established for this species. Therefore, we aimed to produce transgenic knockdown rats using shRNA technology and pronuclear microinjection. To this purpose, we employed a tetracycline-inducible shRNA expression system targeting the insulin receptor (IR). Doxycycline (DOX) treatment of the resulting transgenic rats led to a dose-dependent and reversible increase in blood glucose caused by ubiquitous inhibition of IR expression and signalling. We could neither detect an interferon response nor disturbances in microRNA processing after DOX treatment excluding toxic effects of shRNA expression. Low dose DOX treatment induced a chronic state of diabetes mellitus. In conclusion, we have developed a technology which allows the specific, inducible, and reversible suppression of any gene of interest in the rat. Our first transgenic rat line generated with this method represents an inducible model for diabetes mellitus
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