Manic Fringe


The personal blog of the one and only Luc Gendrot. Internet Superhero. Not really.

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Glowing organs: rats transfected with a luciferase gene reveal circadian secrets.

We've all seen these guys

Whaaattt? Glowing organs? Well, "glowing" not so much, but "emitting detectable light" for sure!

Even though I see cool stuff like this all the time. And glowing rats are nothing new it's still really cool to see these technologies used in practical applications outside of just making people say "Ohh look a glowing rat".

For example take this group of researchers in Geneva who had the gene for luciferase transfected behind several genes which are expressed in cycles throughout the day and could quantify their precise levels.

They also apparently partnered with some engineering/physics group to make a "device" the mouse could I in (the article's not all too specific)? And it can detect the slight luminescence from the genes tagged with luciferase across the entire rat while it's inside. Thus the researchers could detect levels of certain gene products in a rat all over its body for months on end based on whether or not the rat was glowing.

My dad once said of glowing rats: "well what's the point? Now you have a glowing rat, so what?". Well here you go dad.

So that article I linked to above isn't the most descriptive and I was still curious about the circadian rhythm stuff so I went to google and looked up the technique they talked about and the University of Geneva and it came up with this paper which talks about using the luciferase gene to track circadian rhythm genes in response to actin-inhibiting drugs.

I also found this paper which shows certain gene fluctuations in response to body temperature changes.

So apparently this technique is rather common, and this group in Geneva is doing a whole bunch of circadian rhythm stuff which is great because we don't seem to know much about it from what I remember of the biopsych class I took that one time.

A quick YouTube search yielded the video below, which shows the assay process for what I presume to be a small mammalian cell culture.

Science in ACTION. Enjoy.

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