Genetic Engineering Mighty Mice

miceAside from being able to develop genetically modified plants and crops, the field of genetic engineering will be doing the same for animals in the near future. In fact, scientists have already done this by genetically modifying genes in cows and goats to enable them to produce more proteins in milk that can be used for the manufacture of medicines. Although this is still in the developing process, it seems that biotechnology has gone a long way in spreading the scope of genetic modification.

Along the lines of genetic engineering trying to develop better animal breeds, scientists and researchers from Case Western Reserve University has recently bred a group of mighty mice. This group of mice is capable of running up to six kilometers non-stop on a treadmill at 20 meters per minute. This incredible group of mice also exhibited great endurance by running on the treadmill for up to six hours before stopping.

What made this group of special mice do such incredible things has been credited to genetic engineering. Researchers from Case Western Reserve, along with Richard W. Hanson, the senior author of the journal research article and professor of biochemistry at the said school, the PEPCK-Cmus mice also eat 60 percent more than ordinary mice but can still remain fitter and breed longer than the mice that belong in a control group.

According to the researchers, the key to the development of these mighty mice was by the over-expression of the gene for the enzyme called PEPCK-C or phosphoenolypyruvate carboxykinases. The research has been developing the mice for over five years in order to understand the metabolic and physiological function of the enzyme PEPCK-C in the skeletal muscle as well as in the adipose tissue of mice.

The mice were bred through genetic engineering which led to the mice having higher levels of PEPCK-C activity in the skeletal muscles than the control group. The transgenic mice then showed that they were remarkably different from the control group in that the PEPCK-Cmus mice became over active and ran continuously in their cages. The enhanced activity in the mice also extended beyond two years, which is considered as old age for ordinary mice.

Other differences noted by the researcher include that the PEPCK-Cmus mice were able to have lower levels of lactate in their blood after an exercise period as compared to the control group. This indicated that the mighty mice were making use of fatty acids mainly for energy during the exercise while the control group switched from metabolizing fatty acid to using glycogen as fuel. Glycogen, as a carbohydrate, dramatically raised lactate levels in the blood of the control group. This is quite an achievement in the field of genetic engineering which may someday lead to the development of enhanced animals in the future. Who knows, it might even lead to enhanced humans in the far future.

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