Researchers develop rabbits that glow in the dark

16.08.2013 17:18

A glowing bunny sounds like a creature
from Jefferson Airplane’s psychedelic-
laced song, “White Rabbit,” but real
fluorescent rabbits were recently born at
the University of Istanbul, Turkey.
Rabbits join a growing list of fluorescent
fur-bearers. Genetic engineers have
created glowing dogs, cats, pigs and mice
by inserting a gene from a jellyfish into
the mammals’ DNA. The jellyfish gene
codes for a protein that emits light when
exposed to ultraviolet light.
The jellyfish gene adds an obvious
physical change to an engineered animal.
This allows scientists to know that genetic
material successfully transferred into a
new organism.
For example, when Mayo Clinic
researchers genetically engineered cats to
carry a protein that defends the animals
from infection by the feline
immunodeficiency virus (FIV, the cat
version of HIV), the scientists added the
fluorescent gene along with the FIV-
resistance gene. That way they knew that
any cat that fluoresced also carried
protein protection against FIV, a trait that
would otherwise be invisible.
The fluorescent rabbits could eventually
produce proteins as well. Re-engineered
rabbits could manufacture molecules that
biologists would then collect from female
fluorescent rabbits’ milk. Producing
medicines and other chemicals using
rabbits could be less expensive than
fabricating the materials in factories.
University of Hawaiʻi – Mānoa geneticists,
Ryuzo Yanagimachi and Stefan Moisyadi,
collaborated with Turkish scientists at the
University of Istanbul and Marmara
University to create the fluorescent