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OMG ... RFP Kitty!
December 12, 2007 5:51 PM   Subscribe

It all started in 1994 with GFP (green fluorescent protein) labeled E. coli and C. elegans (roundworm) cells. Once people realized that you could express the gene for a jellyfish protein in other cells without any other jellyfish-specific factors, it was possible to label any cell green simply by inserting the gene. Biologists realized the endless possiblities soon enough. GFP zebrafish (1997) [.pdf]. GFP mice (1998). GFP Bunny (more art than science, and previously ...) (2000). GFP monkey (2000). Fluorescent green pigs (2006). But nothing combines cuteness and transgentic more than the newly announced RFP (red fluorescent protein) kitty! And not only are they red fluorescent, but they're cloned to boot!
posted by scblackman (42 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
DO NOT WANT
posted by loquacious at 5:54 PM on December 12, 2007


DO WANT
posted by barnacles at 5:56 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bioluminescent Fungi, natch.
posted by prostyle at 5:58 PM on December 12, 2007


Holy shit, is this the future or what? If you would have told me as a wee tyke in the 70s that by the 2000s we'd have glow in the dark clone kitties, I totally wouldn't have believed you. And now here we are.
posted by the dief at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cats ought not to glow, save with the "I'm making biscuits now" sort of glow.
posted by everichon at 6:03 PM on December 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know, everichon. In the middle of the night, when trying to go from the bed to the bathroom, the not-so-glow-in-the-dark kitty proves to increase the level of difficulty.
posted by MrGuilt at 6:12 PM on December 12, 2007


I can haz bioluminescence?
posted by Biblio at 6:12 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


in the dark, my mostly black kitty glows in the infrared.
posted by bruce at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd prefer blue but red's ok too. I trip over my cats in the dark too much.
posted by puke & cry at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2007


South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.

In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.


Heh.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2007


OK, yeah, this particular application of that gene is a weird one.

But research using that gene was quite useful, because what they were really researching was activation sequences. They would modify something (like C. elegans) to add that gene with some particular activation sequence, and then see what glowed when they shined UV on it. It was a really easy way to find out which cells activated that gene and which did not.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mmmm... glow-in-the-dark bacon.
posted by XMLicious at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2007


By the way, am I the only one who would be afraid that at some point it would stare off into space and begin to choke dramatically, but instead of a hairball coming up jellyfish tentacles would burst from the chest and throttle me?
posted by XMLicious at 6:36 PM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


So, if the Blue Man Group has children, they could save on makeup, later, I mean, if they choose that kind of life. We could start some new races. In my next life, I want to be purple with yellow slit, eyes, like a cat.
posted by Oyéah at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2007


It's not easy being green.
posted by hal9k at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2007


This could be fun. You wouldn't have to switch the bathroom light on if you need to take a wee in the middle of the night.
posted by clevershark at 6:44 PM on December 12, 2007


Okay, can we get back to working on the unisex jumpsuits and hovercars I expected to own by now? I'm totally fine with ordinary non-glowing non-clone cats until we work out the important stuff.
posted by padraigin at 6:47 PM on December 12, 2007


I can haz bioluminescence?

No, fluorescence.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:50 PM on December 12, 2007


they need to put this gene in my goddamn car keys ring.
posted by panamax at 7:03 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also potentially available in blue (actually, cyan fluorescent protein, or CFP).
posted by scblackman at 7:10 PM on December 12, 2007


One of those might be kinda cool to have if you liked 'shrooms. Just sayin'.
posted by netbros at 7:11 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


When these animals are rendered you get green Jello.
posted by Tube at 7:19 PM on December 12, 2007


In the dark, all cats are grey no longer, and people in the future will wonder why the ancients came up with such strange & cryptic sayings.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:24 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


scblackman, cyan is awesome (and tres mefi-esque) but goddamn, the company logo for that site you linked freaks me the hell out.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:25 PM on December 12, 2007


Hey, cats have had night vision for a long time, this is just one step closer to leveling the playing field.
posted by cmgonzalez at 7:38 PM on December 12, 2007


I had no idea they were doing stuff like this with GFP. Awesome post.
posted by switchsonic at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2007


whats interesting about the red-fluorescence-kitty is that she seems to glow brighter in areas with high blood flow (eyes, nose). I guess that makes sense, since the gene is present in living cells but not (I assume?) in dead hair follicles.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find a market for parents who want kids with fluorescent blood.
posted by Avenger at 8:58 PM on December 12, 2007


Recently, kinda-sorta-not-really-related. Red frogs. Not as pretty as red cats, but Katushka looks like a better and brighter fluorochrome than RFP and dsRed.
posted by kisch mokusch at 9:16 PM on December 12, 2007


Have they figured out how GFP goes from native sequence to modified, fluorescent form? Anyone, anyone? Bueller?
posted by Joe Invisible at 9:22 PM on December 12, 2007


GLOWING CAT IS WATCHING YOU MASTURBATE
posted by tehloki at 10:13 PM on December 12, 2007


I trip over my cats in the dark too much.-- puke & cry

You mean your cats trip you in the dark too much--that is if they are anything like the cats I used to have (I miss my cats!).

I think it would be really cool to have a florescent clone. Imagine if he goes to some club that had a lot of blacklights. He would freak people out! (I imagine there may be more practical uses for this technology).
posted by eye of newt at 10:58 PM on December 12, 2007


Wait, eye of newt are you saying regular blacklights will work with one of these kitties? Because my first thought was that I should wait until they come out with a kitty that doesn't require installing a bunch of expensive 'ultraviolet beam' emitters around the house.
posted by esome at 11:35 PM on December 12, 2007


I would just like to point out that bioluminescence and fluorescence are two totally different things. You already have many things in your house that fluoresce under ultraviolet, including some famous human bodily fluids.
posted by DU at 4:38 AM on December 13, 2007


My lab class just did the whole E. coli/GFP thing. It would've been much cooler with kitties. Maybe next year.
posted by lilac girl at 6:31 AM on December 13, 2007


esome: blacklight lamps have a peak wavelength around 370nm; RFP is most eficiently excited at about 550nm which is a yellowy-green colour, not UV. So to to see red fluorescent kitteh I would imagine one really needs green illumination and very specific red filters.
posted by nowonmai at 6:31 AM on December 13, 2007


Further to my answer above, I thought to myself "why do the two articles about RFP cats both mention UV illumination? They are both terrible terrible specimens of science journalism, but even so." Hence fact-checking! Indeed, the recipe for red fluorescent kitteh is here (click through to the pdf) and the relevant bit is reproduced below.

Detection of Red Fluorescence Protein
Red fluorescence of liveborn and stillborn RFP TG cats was detected using excitation-
emission filter sets. Light was supplied from a 70 W surgery light equipped with an excitation
filter (HQ 540/40; Chroma Technology Corp., Rockingham, VT, USA). Red fluorescence
emission from the cat and organs was detected using a SAMSUNG Digital camera (GX10,
Republic of Korea) equipped with emission filters (HQ 600/50; Chroma Technology Corp.,
Rockingham, VT, USA) that were attached proximal to the camera lens. The filter was easily
removed for imaging with white light illumination.


Green illumination and a filter allowing orange light through to the camera; the articles in the post were full of shit and normal blacklight would not work at all. Sorry! The picture in the last link above is the cat shown with and without the orange filter in front of the camera.
posted by nowonmai at 6:50 AM on December 13, 2007


ZOMG NOBODY READ THE VERY LAST PAGE OF THE PAPER I LINKED TO ABOVE!!!!!!

*cries*
posted by nowonmai at 6:51 AM on December 13, 2007


The 'red glowing kitty' picture "was produced by illumination with 540 ± 20 nm, and detected using an emission filter with a maximal
transmittance wavelength of 600 ± 25 nm"

540 nm....hmm... I suppose my clone could walk into a club that was lit up with red LEDs.
posted by eye of newt at 8:00 AM on December 13, 2007


Meh. No matter what color they are, they still taste the same.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 8:59 AM on December 13, 2007


540 nm is more yellow-green.

Most of these fluorescent proteins absorb enough in the UV to fluorescence under blacklight. If you're really serious about taking your transgenic kitty clubbing though, you'd probably want to use the sapphire variant of GFP which is optimally excited in the UV and emits in the green. There are also some new blue fluorescent proteins which are excited in the UV and emit in the blue.
posted by pombe at 9:20 AM on December 13, 2007


I'm looking forward to the porn [NOT PORNIST]. Remember the blackout scene from that Blake Edwards movie with the two naked guys fighting with their luminous condom-clad weiners a-wobble? Yeah, like that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2007


Avenger: whats interesting about the red-fluorescence-kitty is that she seems to glow brighter in areas with high blood flow (eyes, nose)

And what's also interesting is to compare this (and the similar effect with the fluorescent pigs) with the entirely different lighting on the picture of Alba, the alleged fluorescent bunny, where the high blood-flow parts (eyelids and inside ears) are darker - consistent with a normal rabbit under green light.
posted by raygirvan at 5:58 PM on December 13, 2007


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