FrankenKitty: Genetically Modified Cats Glowing Green for Science

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed a genome-based immunization strategy to fight feline AIDS and illuminate ways to combat human HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The goal is to create cats with intrinsic immunity to the feline AIDS virus. The findings — called fascinating and landmark by one reviewer — appear in the current online issue of Nature Methods.

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FrankenKitty: Genetically Modified Cats Glowing…, posted with vodpod

In 1961 researcher Osamu Shimomura of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts noticed a molecule in this jellyfish that glowed bright green under ultraviolet light (as pictured).

After extracting the molecule from 10,000 specimens, Shimomura found the protein that creates the glow.

At some point, a light bulb went off. Some of Shimomura’s colleagues realized that the protein could be attached to other proteins–enabling scientists to mark proteins of their choice with a green glow.

Since then, Shimomura’s green fluorescent protein (GFP) has been used to decrypt previously invisible processes, like the spread of cancer or the development of nerve cells–earning Shimomura and colleagues a Nobel Prize in 2008.

Fluorescent proteins have also been used to engineer some truly strange beasts (and the odd plant), such as the glowing puppies, monkeys, mice, fish and other animals on the following pages.

In 1994 GFP was cloned. Now GFP is found in laboratories all over the world where it is used in every conceivable plant and animal. Flatworms, algae, E. coli and pigs have all been made to fluoresce with GFP. In 2008, GFP was recognized when the Nobel Committee awarded Osamu Shimomura, Marty Chalfie and Roger Tsien the Chemistry Nobel Prize “for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.”

Also Read: Scientists Warn of Planet of the Apes Scenario

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