Jumping gene flash

日期:2019-03-07 11:02:08 作者:有跌踟 阅读:

By Ian Sample GENETIC engineers have a new tool for tracking genes in genetically modified insects. The trick, according to researchers in Germany, is to give the creatures fluorescent green eyes. One way of tracking genes is to use a fluorescent marker protein from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. But the fluorescence it produces is often too weak to be useful, so Ernst Wimmer and his colleagues at the University of Bayreuth have devised a way to make the fluorescence more noticeable. The researchers added the gene that codes for the glowing protein to a short “jumping gene” that splices itself into DNA. They then added a further DNA sequence, which binds strongly with a protein found in eyes. When fruit flies and flour beetles took up this gene package, they produced the fluorescent protein in their eyes, the biologists found. “This is a marker system that should work in any species with eyes,” Wimmer says. Geneticists already know how to modify insects so they are no longer able to spread diseases (New Scientist, 11 May 1996, p 16). But only a few of the insects’ progeny inherit the “disease-disabling” genes. If these genes were added to Wimmer’s package, however, it could be used to pick out those individuals that have actually inherited the genes. “This sounds like it could be useful, but they’ve only tried it in fruit flies and flour beetles,” says Peter Lawrence, a developmental biologist at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge. He would like to see further demonstrations in a wide variety of animals. “We’ll need to see far more before we can say this is a universal marker,” he says. Source: Nature (vol 402,