zebrafish originated from the Ganges River in India.
Hopkins is quite attached to her zebrafish. As she tells
Alan in the segment "Fishing for Baby Genes," when she wants
to relax, she likes to sit in her lab at MIT and just gaze
at them. All 150,000.
to these fish and some ingenious science, Hopkins has discovered
several genes directly responsible for creating a baby fish,
and more importantly, a baby human. Because our two species
share so much DNA - about 90% of it - the genes that are instrumental
in building a heart, liver, and much of the rest of our bodies
can also be found in these tiny, striped creatures. And, as
Hopkins notes, her fish make much more manageable test subjects.
and Hopkins marvel at her fishy brood, and the potential
order to zero in on the critical genes, Hopkins and her team
begin by injecting a virus into the fish embryos that causes
random mutations to occur. If the virus happened to attach
itself to a gene responsible for creating a body part, the
descendants of that fish will display the deformity. It's
a hit and miss process, but so far, thanks to Hopkins patience
and her vast stable of fish, the work is paying off.
she tells Alan, Hopkins hopes one day to help create a master
list of all the genes essential to building a human. Need
a new heart? Your doctors would need only to consult the list.
While it may be far off, the medical potential of Hopkins'
research is enormous.
more on this topic, see the web feature:
in Love with DNA