E.T. Mouse Hearts Glow
Researchers at Cornell have created mice whose heart muscles have been genetically engineered to fluoresce when the muscles contract. Junichi Nakai of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Wako-shi, Japan, developed the fluorescent molecule by modifying a green fluorescent protein (derived from bioluminescent jellyfish) and making it glow brightly enough to be observed in the working heart. The sensor molecule turns on and off like a switch in the presence of calcium; calcium concentrations in the muscle increase with each muscle contraction.
(Mouse embryo heart fluoresces as it contracts with each beat)
In the graphic shown above, the heart of a mouse embryo goes from a resting state between beats (upper left) through upper heart chamber contraction, then finally lower heart chamber contraction (lower right).
Incredibly, in order to photograph a mouse heart beat (the mouse embryo's heart beats 6-10 times per second), a special camera cooled to -90 degrees Celsius is used to get a sharp image.
By the tenth day of development, a rudimentary heart is already beating, but it has only two chambers. The upper chamber contracts first, then the lower; this delay in contractions is obviously necessary for efficient pumping action. However, the atrio-ventricular node (AV node) does not develop until the thirteenth day; so, how does the heart function without it?
This technique allowed researchers to discover a layer of specialized cells on the surface of the developing heart that delays the beats between upper and lower chambers. These cells die off once the AV node has developed.
(E.T. and Elliot)
This isn't really a case in which science fiction has specifically anticipated a real scientific development, but I couldn't resist the story. In the movie E.T. the Extraterrestrial director Steven Spielberg shows E.T.'s heart glowing as he communicates with his fellows aboard their ship.
For more miraculous mice stories, read Lab Mice Unexpectedly Regenerate Limbs, Organs, Klotho Anti-Aging Mouse Gene and Yoda - The World's Oldest Mouse. Read more about mice with glowing hearts.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/10/2006)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?' - Niven, Pournelle, Flynn, 1995.
Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' -
Worms Eat Plastic Now
'Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased...' - Davis/Pedlar, 1971.
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.' - Peter Watts, 1999.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'
Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.
Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'
Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.
Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'
Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'
Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'
Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.
Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'
Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'
Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'
Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'
Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'
NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'
GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories