Green gene

Published: Sunday 15 January 1995

The makers of transgenic beings -- customised life-forms fitted with foreign genes to endow them with desirable qualities, such as disease-resistance -- need no longer be in suspense over whether the recipient would accept alien genes. A team of researchers from the US Agricultural Research Service and the University of Wisconsin has isolated a gene that gives the green signal to gene transfer (Science, Vol 266, No 5186).

The "green gene", which codes for the green light of the luminous jellyfish called Aequorea victoria, turns green to indicate that other foreign genes inserted along with it have been accepted. This genetic green light and the gene of interest are both lit up because they lie in a DNA sequence controlled by a genetic "on-off" switch.

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