Green Mice created

Gina Miller (
Mon, 17 May 1999 14:36:08 PDT

Little green mice that are a glowing tribute to science Daily Mail

SCIENTISTS have created green mice using a revolutionary new genetic engineering technique revealed yesterday.

The mice developed their unusual colour after a fluorescent gene taken from jellyfish was injected into their cells. When illuminated by ultraviolet light, scientists found that the creatures glowed green.

The green gene, however, was merely a marker. It was being used to demonstrate that a new technique using sperm cells to transfer genetic material worked.

It proved that scientists at the University of Hawaii had created a simpler and more straightforward method, which was reported yesterday in the journal Science, than the one previously used.

Usually when scientists want to modify an animal they inject DNA into the nucleus of a fertilised egg cell, which then develops into an embryo containing the new gene.

The method works well in mice but is more difficult in larger mammals such as cows and pigs. Their fertilised egg cells are opaque, making the nucleus harder to find.

The new technique, however, involves a form of in-vitro fertilisation.

In it, sperm heads whose cell coats have been disrupted by freezing or treating with chemicals are mixed with DNA.

That mixture is then injected into an unfertilised egg cell using an IVF technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

Some of the DNA penetrates the sperm heads, which fertilise the egg and consequently incorporate the new genetic material.

'The great thing about this method is that it is very straightforward. It may prove to be more efficient,' said Professor Tony Perry, one of the research team.

The technique could have major implications for the use of mouse models to study human genes and the breeding of genetically engineered pigs whose organs can be transplanted into humans.

Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
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