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.
Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'
Robot Hummingbird Hovers Biomimetically
'With a buzz... it started out on its journey.'
Harvest Water From Air With Sunlight
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
Capitalist Big Brother Co-Opts Regular Big Brother
'It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.'
A Floating Cosmodrome
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'
First Artificial Memory Formed In Animals
'Is an extra-factual memory that convincing?' Quail asked.
Maintain Your Megastructure
Megastructures have repair robots, which have repair robots, ad infinitum.
Venezuelans Teaching Your Self-Driving Car
‘She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...’
Robothread Robotic Worms Crawling Through Your Brain
Perfect for clot-busting in the human brain. No Raquel Welch and no lasers, though.
Vantablack BMW X6 Is Douglas Adams Approved
'It's so... black!' said Ford Prefect.
Humanoid Robot's Muscles Biomimic Ours
'It is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature...'
Animatronic Robotic Baby Exposed
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
Beijing HaiDiLao Robotic Hotpot Restaurant Now Flavored By Artificial Intelligence
'Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.'
Plants of the Future - What Should They Be Like
'He almost choked in his astonishment. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy!'
China Deploys Robot Traffic Police
'The robot came up smooth and fast as a rocket...'
Better Than Dune Chromoplastic? This Guy Might Have Done It
'But when Old Father Sun departs, the chromoplastic reverts to transparency in the dark.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories