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GloFish to challenge California's Bioengineering Can?
The following is a synopsis of an article from the San Francisco Chronicle [One fish, two fish, red fish ... blue fish? Pet with a glow runs up against state's bioengineering ban Glen Martin, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, December 3, 2003]. To see the original article, please visit http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/12/03/MNGN83EU501.DTL
Transgenic zebrafish go on sale next month to aquarium hobbyists across the United States, but not in California unless Yorktown Technologies of Austin wins an exemption to a recent state ban on lab-engineered aquatic species. Today the California Fish and Game Commission is expected to take up the issue Sacramento after state biologists concluded that the fish poses no threat to the aquatic environment of California.
Yorktown Technologies plans a nationwide rollout for the fish Jan. 5 and expects them to be hot sellers at $5 each.
Fluorescent zebrafish were developed at the National University of Singapore by biotechnologist Xhiyuan Gong. Zebrafish long have been a kind of aquatic lab rat, a species favored by researchers because they are cheap, fecund and genetically malleable.
"They have exceptionally clear eggs, so they're excellent for tracking the development of cell lineage," said Alison Van Eenennaam, a researcher with the Animal Biotechnology Cooperative Extension Department at UC Davis. ..
Turning the Singapore toxic detectors into home aquarium superstars was fairly easy, Oakes said. "It was just a matter of making a fish that fluoresces in the presence of pollutants to one that fluoresces all the time."
Scientists accomplish the technique by harnessing "promoters," DNA sequences that control proteins known to express certain qualities -- such as bioluminescence.
"They tell those proteins where to express," Van Eenennaam said. If germ (egg) cell promoters are used, for example, Van Eenennaam said, "only germ cells fluoresce. But (with the GloFish), the proteins are under the control of a muscle promoter. So the entire organism fluoresces."
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