James D. Murray

James Murray

Position Title

Department of Animal Science, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

2119 Meyer Hall

Research Interests

My research program is divided between two areas: genetic engineering of mammals and horse genomics. Within the work centered on transgenic animal biology we work on a number of gene systems designed in livestock for use in agriculture. Within the latter area we are focused on manipulating the mammary gland to improve the properties of milk for human consumption. We also carry out work to improve the technology associated with genetically engineering large animals. Mammary gland directed transgenes: The expectation for this work is that the expression of specific transgenes in the mammary epithelium will lead to altered processing properties, changed lipid composition, increased anti-microbial properties, or result in other health-related or economically valuable alterations in the milk. My laboratory’s work principally has been centered on the development and characterization of transgenic mice, then goats, as models for the eventual genetic manipulation of dairy cattle. The most advanced work, in collaboration with Dr Elizabeth Maga, concerns the consequences of expressing human lysozyme in the milk of dairy goats or human lactoferrin in dairy cows. We have an established a herd of human lysozyme transgenic dairy goats and are currently studying the properties of this milk. We are also studying the potential effects of carrying and expressing this transgene on the health and welfare of the animals and the safety of the dairy products for human consumption. In this regard, recent publications report on the effects on the health of the GI tract in young pigs consuming goats’ milk that contains human lysozyme. Most recently we have shown that feeding of goats milk expressing high levels (68% human milk levels) of lysozyme can significantly enhance recovery from E. coli –induced diarrheal disease. Improving the efficiency of gene transfer: The laboratory has conducted a number of studies with the goal of developing promoter systems, improved technology, or methods to increase the efficiency of genetic engineering in livestock. Work initially focused on using the bacterial Rec A protein to coat DNA constructs and has since shifted to the application of RNAi to manipulate endogenous protein levels in an attempt to influence the mechanisms responsible for the integration of exogenous DNA and the use of mesenchymal stem cells as potential nuclei donors for somatic cell nuclear transfer-based cloning. Mapping the Horse Genome: With a colleague in the School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr Cecilia Penedo my laboratory has been involved in an international effort to develop genomic tools for use in horse research. We have contributed to international efforts to develop physical and genetic maps of the horse genome and the application of these tools to the identification of loci responsible for traits of interest in the horse. In addition to developing genomic tools we identified a mutation segregating with Cerebellar abiotrophy (CA) in Arabian horses and are currently working to determine the molecular basis for the CA in the horse.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Animal Biology Graduate Group
  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics

Specialties / Focus

  • Animal Genomics

Honors and Awards

  • Fellow American Association for the Advancement of Science


    • 1974 BS Zoology and Physiology University of Wyoming, Laramie
    • 1975 MS Zoology and Physiology University of Wyoming, Laramie
    • 1980 PhD Genetics Macquarie University, Australia


    Bertolini, L.R., Bertolini, M., Anderson, G.B., Maga, E.A., Madden, K.R. and Murray, J.D. (2007). Transient depletion of Ku70 and Xrcc4 by RNAi as a means to manipulate the non-homologous end-joining pathway. J. Biotech. 128:246-257.

    Brundige, D.R. Maga, E.A., Klasing, K.C. and Murray, J.D. (2008) Lysozyme transgenic goats’ milk influences gastrointestinal morphology in young pigs. J. Nutrition 138:921-926.

    Bertolini, L.R., Bertolini, M., Maga, E.A., Madden, K.R. and Murray, J.D. (2009). Increased gene targeting in Ku70 and Xrcc4 transiently deficient human somatic cells. Mol. Biotech. 41:106-114.

    Brundige, D.R. Maga, E.A., Klasing, K.C. and Murray, J.D. (2010) Consumption of Pasteurized Human Lysozyme Transgenic Goats' Milk Alters Serum Metabolite Profile in Young Pigs. Transgenic Res. 19:563-74, Epub 2009 Oct 22.

    Murray, J.D. and Maga, E.A. (2010) Is there a risk from not using GE animals?Transgenic Res. 19:357-361, Epub 11/09.

    Jackson, K.A., Berg, J.M., Murray, J.D. and Maga, E.A. (2010) Evaluating the Fitness of Human Lysozyme Transgenic Dairy Goats: Growth and Reproductive Traits. Transgenic Res.19:977-986. Epub 2/10 :in press.

    Maga, E.A. and Murray, J.D. (2010) Welfare Applications of Genetically Engineered Animals for use in Agriculture. J Anim Sci. 88:1588-1591, Epub 2/12/2010.

    O’Meara, C.M., Murray, J.D., Mamo, S., Gallagher, E., Roche, J. and Lonergan, P. (2010) Gene Silencing in Bovine Zygotes: SIRNA Transfection Versus Microinjection. J. Reprod. Fert. & Devel. In press

    Brault, L.S., Cooper, C.A., Famula, T.R. Murray, J.D. and M. Cecilia T. Penedo, M.C.T. (2010) Mapping of equine cerebellar abiotrophy to ECA2 and identification of a potential causative mutation affecting expression of MUTYH. Genomics in press

    Cooper, C.A., Brundige, D.R., Reh, W.A., Maga, E.A. and Murray, J.D. (2010) Lysozyme transgenic goats' milk positively impacts intestinal cytokine expression and morphology. Transgenic Research