Aids research creates glowing cats
Published 11/09/2011 | 18:06
Green glowing cats have been created by gene scientists working on the Aids virus.
The spooky-looking moggies had their DNA modified with a gene from a fluorescent jellyfish. Placed under blue light, their fur, claws and whiskers emit an eerie green glow.
The purpose of the study was to show how a natural protein that prevents macaque monkeys developing Aids can do the same in cats.
Scientists in the US used the jellyfish gene to track the gene for the protein. Both were inserted into the DNA of adult tabby cats, which gave birth to luminous kittens.
Cats are susceptible to their own version of the HIV virus that triggers Aids, called FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus).
Normally the immune systems of cats and humans are overwhelmed by the viruses.
But macaque monkeys possess "restriction factor" proteins that can stop the viruses invading immune cells.
When cats were genetically engineered to produce one of these factors, TRIMcyp, FIV replication was reduced.
Two male cats and one female with the genes were born and survived. The male passed the genes down to kittens of his own, which emitted a weaker glow.
Eric Poeschla, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, New York state, who led the study, reported in the journal Nature Methods: "One of the best things about this biomedical research is that it is aimed at benefiting both human and feline health. It can help cats as much as people."