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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Biology ")

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.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'

NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.

Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'

Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'

Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'

Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

Do We Really Want Backflipping Robots?
Also includes wonderful blooper reel.

RNA-Based Biocomputing Device
Living things can sense and analyze complex signals in living cells.

Seasteading Floating Cities
'It was a remarkable island, circular, about half a kilometer in diameter.'

Tesla Semi 'Electrotruck' Unveiled
Elon Musk unveils yet another technological marvel.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.