Japanese biologist raised two-headed fish

Japanese biologist experimentally confirmed that the developed method for rapid and precise control of gene expression can be applied in practice. The main feature of the proposed method was the effect on RNA, not DNA.

Manipulation of gene expression with the help of available technologies is limited by the speed of response and duration of effect. In recent years there have been ways of controlling by means of light, but they were considered not applicable in the case of embryonic development due to the delay of several hours between exposure and caused by the beginning or termination of protein synthesis. Existing technologies require genetic modification.

Sense Ogasawara Hokkaido University has offered to intervene in the process of translating an mRNA into a protein instead of the conventional effects on the transcription of DNA into mRNA. This eliminated the need to make genetic modifications: mRNA changed in such a way that they are associated with a specific signal molecule upon irradiation with ultraviolet light could not reach, being lit up blue.

As a demonstration, the researchers grew a two-headed fish, controlling the expression of the required gene. It was also shown that protein production starts after just a few minutes after you turn the UV light on and off a few tens of minutes after irradiation with blue light.

“Our method may be particularly useful for the control of embryonic development, and to identify the importance of beginning and duration of gene expression. Applying this technology to higher organisms such as mouse, we hope to clarify the role of each gene in the development of animals and various diseases,” said Ogasawara.