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 -
Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!
Is There Extraterrestrial Life Here In The Solar System
'How fast is it moving? ...one meter per minute.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1982.
Chinese Fern Helps Remediate Arsenic Soil
'Bioengeering had put out a spec report on the long crawly things five months back.' - Gregory Benford, 1983.
New Lifelike Material Powered By Artificial Metabolism
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.
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.
Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).
Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'
Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'
Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'
Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'
The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'
Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'
Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'
Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'
Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'
NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'
Moving Suns To Different Galactic Neighborhoods
'...to swerve their star from its course, the globemen made use of a simple physical principle.'
Students Surveilled By School Phone Apps
Cheer up, students. '...cracking my SchoolBook had been easy.'
Massage Robot Has Soft Hands, Er, Pads
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently over my naked form.'
Medical Tattoos Are STILL Being Researched
'Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted.'
Elon Musk's Traffic Tunnel Challenge Is Boring
'The car vibrated... threading the maze of local tubes.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories