Glowing Monkeys Inherit Jellyfish Genes

Last month in Japan, a very special marmoset monkey was born–one who inherited from his parents not only their marmoset DNA, but also a jellyfish gene for green fluorescent protein (GFP) that makes both the animal and his parents glow green under fluorescent light. The monkey parents aren’t the first primates to fluoresce, but they are the first to pass a genetically engineered trait to their offspring.

“The birth of this transgenic marmoset baby is undoubtedly a milestone,” write Gerald Schatten and Shoukhrat Mitalipov in a piece accompanying the paper, published today in the journal Nature. Scientists have previously created a menagerie of transgenic animals, including rats, rabbits, pigs, cows, cats, dogs, and even monkeys (in one study, scientists created monkeys that genetically mimic Huntington’s disease), but “no study has shown transmission of foreign DNA to gametes–the sperm and egg–which is essential for the generation of transgenic offspring. These offspring could then be bred to create transgenic-primate strains,” they add.

The ability to genetically engineer primates is essential for creating more-accurate animal models of human diseases, especially neurological ones. For example, Schatten and Mitalipov say,

Mice engineered to express the cystic fibrosis gene, for example, do not develop the lung problems that typify this disorder . . . Disorders of higher brain function, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are especially challenging to reproduce in rodents, and here, as with many other diseases, it is our closest animal relatives–the non-human primates–that offer potentially invaluable biological models.

I applaud the scientific breakthrough, but does anyone else find it a little creepy that we are now breeding transgenic animals, particularly primates?

It is creepy, but things have a way of balancing out.
If we’re creating abominations against nature. we’ll pay for it…:eek:

Glowing monkeys/primates…this reminds me of Island of Dr. Moreau/HG Wells kind of stuff.

As long as the uses remain mundane, and well-managed, responsible I don’t have a problem with it. :shrug:

I’ll probably end up eating my words, since they’re genetically messing with primates…right now I’m thinking a thousand years ahead into the future with a screaming Charlton Heston on the sandy shore at the Statue Of Liberty…with Dr. Zaius sporting a neon coat of fur looking ahead at him gloatingly

well typically the ‘glowing’ genes are used because they are very simple and not easily rejected. this is done more to learn about how to modify the genome than to make a glowing monkey.

Exactly. The significance of the discovery was how to create an inheritable genetic trait, even though that trait came from a species distantly related.

We are much closer now to creating a chimera species than we have ever been before.

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