Everyone knows the internet is because that cats. Nothing else, just cats. Cats room fun, cats are cute, and also cats have the capability to improve the high quality of any kind of day. Ns mean, just look in ~ this guy!


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You are watching: Genetically modified glow in the dark animals

priziv.orgt wait: as well as chemistry puns, can cats make any type of important contripriziv.orgtions to science? Yes, they perform – and in a huge way. The mei Clinic is now using felines together test topics to study AIDS, one immunologic disease. And also while this sound pretty cool, it gets even better: these cat glow in the dark.


Wait, did we say cats? This tiny mutants room still adorable kittens. Creditb | NPR

Bioluminescence, the capacity to emit light, occurs normally in organisms choose jellyfish, insects and fungi (please note, this group does not include cats). In 1961, Osamu Shimomura (a Boston university graduate and Nobel compensation winner) and also his colleagues, martin Chalfe and also Roger Y. Tsien, isolated the protein responsible because that bioluminescence in the jellyfish varieties Aequorea victoria.1 This protein is dubbed Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). A non-bioluminescent organism have the right to be gene modified come emit light if the DNA succession encoding for GFP is included into the genome.

When researchers want to combine a details DNA sequence right into an organism because that research, the is an overwhelming to identify if the sequence has actually been properly integrated. To be certain the DNA succession is useful within the organism, the GFP gene is inserted into the organism’s genome at the very same time as the DNA sequence to it is in researched. If the biology is bioluminescent, the certain DNA sequence has properly combined into the genome. The fluorescence for this reason acts as a sign for effective integration, enabling easy to know of the modified organism.


This is a simplified depiction of molecular biochemistry with enzymes. Credit transaction | Dhorstool via Wikimedia Commons

At first, bioluminescence tags were only used in single-celled organisms. Now, scientists use the protein in multi-celled organisms … prefer cats. In this case, the cats that are “tagged” through the glow GFP protein likewise successfully create a protein the protects them versus the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).2, 3 FIV is the virus that causes feline AIDS, and also is similar to human being Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and also the AIDS epedemic.2 since of this, the research involving FIV may also be applicable come humans, helping both types in your struggle versus AIDS.

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Several various other experiments need to be completed prior to we know the benefits of this research, however the outcomes so far are promising. Both GFP and the safety protein carry through herbal reproductive processes, 2 promise at the very least two things:

1) FIV and also AIDS research will proceed to check the effectiveness of the safety protein. If the protein proves effective, the transferable nature that the gene might be applied to the whole population of domestic cats. This might then be modified and applied come humans.

2) As study continues, there will be more glowing cats! anyone wins!


1 Shimomura, Osamu. Autobiography. Retrieved from http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2008/shimomura.

2 Nellis, Robert. (2011, September 11). Mei Clinic teams with glow Cats against AIDS,
Other Diseases: New method gives cats security genes. Retrieved indigenous http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2011-rst/6434.html

3 Wongsrikeao, Pimprapar and also Dyana Saenz, Tommy Rinkoski, Takeshige Otoi & Eric
Poeschla. Antiviral transcription aspect transgenesis in the residential cat. Nature
Methods. 11 September 2011. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nmeth.1703.html