Meddling with genetics

This news is a bit old but when I first read it I was very surprised to find that you could add spider genes to a goat.

The goats with spider genes and silk in their milk - BBC News

"Prof Randy Lewis shows Adam Rutherford genetically modified goats at a farm at Utah State University, US, which produce large quantities of a spider silk that is among the strongest substances known to man.

The transplanted gene means the goat produce milk containing an extra protein, which is extracted and spun into spider silk thread."

This is mostly at the very edge of my understanding as I haven't studied biology to an advanced level. However, I believe there are genes called Hox genes and if you mess around with them then it can lead to some very bizarre results, such as two heads or really whatever a twisted mind could want. Hox gene - Wikipedia

This news with the spiders I found disturbing though, I had been under the impression that you can only create animals with a similar degree of pedigree and evolutionary history, much like in the natural world you can't get a different species to mate. Now they've created this spider silk with a combined spider-goat gene would it not be possible to make all sorts of horrendous monstrosities? What's to stop scientists making an 8 legged spider goat? As daft as it sounds it would be possible, wouldn't it?

The more troubling thought is that one day such bizarre creations might exist, it seems there's very little scientists won't do. Incidentally, this is the major defence religion has against science, personally I'd rather we not play at God.
 
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(singing) Spider goat. Spider goat
 
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The horror, the horror.
I know it seems like b.s. but could something like that be possible? They've made spider milk and spider human skin! And the Hox genes control where you have legs and stuff, so can't you add spider hox genes to human ones?
 
 
I know it seems like b.s. but could something like that be possible? They've made spider milk and spider human skin! And the Hox genes control where you have legs and stuff, so can't you add spider hox genes to human ones?
I know far call about molecular biology but I doubt it.

You can splice certain genes between different species but I don't think you can create chimera or completely transgenic species.

Hmmm. Maybe/maybe not. I assumed that any animal that was generated by modifying the embryonic stem cell would be sterile (like a horse/donkey producing a sterile mule) but apparently not. The fluorescent mice apparently passed the fluorescent gene onto their offspring.

A mouse/jellyfish/HIV virus chimera. What could possibly go wrong?
 

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
I know it seems like b.s. but could something like that be possible? They've made spider milk and spider human skin! And the Hox genes control where you have legs and stuff, so can't you add spider hox genes to human ones?
Doubt it's likely any time soon. Spider silk protein is packaged for export. As are milk proteins. As are hormone proteins. A lot of human growth hormone for example is now produced via goat or sheep milk as they carry out the relevant post translational modification. This is splicing in a handful of genes onto a mammary grand operon. Goats with eight legs is at least dozens of genes with many different controlling operons.
 
Doubt it's likely any time soon. Spider silk protein is packaged for export. As are milk proteins. As are hormone proteins. A lot of human growth hormone for example is now produced via goat or sheep milk as they carry out the relevant post translational modification. This is splicing in a handful of genes onto a mammary grand operon. Goats with eight legs is at least dozens of genes with many different controlling operons.

IIRC though hox genes can be manipulated so make a mouse with however many eyes/legs? So presumably we can't add wings from a fly to a mouse but we can create a weird mutant.

Whether we so should be playing around with this stuff is a bigger question.
 

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
IIRC though hox genes can be manipulated so make a mouse with however many eyes/legs? So presumably we can't add wings from a fly to a mouse but we can create a weird mutant.

Whether we so should be playing around with this stuff is a bigger question.
Humanity has been creating weird mutants for centuries if not millennia. Notable examples being Norfolk, the pharaohs of Egypt or in more recent times the gene puddles of Widnes and Bradistan.
 
Humanity has been creating weird mutants for centuries if not millennia. Notable examples being Norfolk, the pharaohs of Egypt or in more recent times the gene puddles of Widnes and Bradistan.
You are not wrong.
SWMBO had classrooms full of them for decades.
It was not unkown for them to share an eye or a leg.
And that was just the staff room.
 
1st year molecular biology was nearly 20 years ago, and my textbooks are in storage. That notwithstanding...

Hox genes are regulators of expression, or genes that control other genes. The precise biochemical basis for that is one of those things I've forgotten (or at least as likely never knew :D) The gene encoding the relevant silk protein will have been isolated - so there'll be very little regulatory baggage with it. Eukaryotic genetic engineering is more complicated than the prokaryotic kind - they'll almost certainly have inserted some regulatory sequences with it, and those sequences themselves may well have been tinkered with. There's a fairly high degree of homology between promoters, but you do still get variation between and within species (again, see Lodish and Berk for details - the only one I can remember is the TATA box, and that's bacterial).

TL;DR - danger of 8-legged goats: minimal.
 
 

Funbaby

Old-Salt
Meh if Cas9/CRISPR technology keeps making progress , you’ll be able to grow eight legs and shit silk in a few years*.


*maybe
 

Tyk

LE
Doubt it's likely any time soon. Spider silk protein is packaged for export. As are milk proteins. As are hormone proteins. A lot of human growth hormone for example is now produced via goat or sheep milk as they carry out the relevant post translational modification. This is splicing in a handful of genes onto a mammary grand operon. Goats with eight legs is at least dozens of genes with many different controlling operons.
Handy for the Goat curry industry though, I know a few folk from the West Indies that would be keen.
 

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