Female mice that are abnormally small due to gene "knockout" technology are also bad mothers whose poor parenting skills cause their young to die within a day or two of birth, scientists report this week in the on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Since Chawnshang Chang, Ph.D., cloned the gene for testicular orphan receptor 4 (TR4) 10 years ago, he and other scientists have tried to learn its function – scientists call it an "orphan" receptor because they dont know what protein links up with it. So a team led by Chang, director of George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, knocked out the gene in mice, then watched what happened.
They found that many of the mice died before birth. Those that lived are markedly smaller than their normal counterparts: Theyre born far smaller and then make up some of the difference as they grow, but generally they are about 20 to 30 percent smaller by the time they reach adulthood. The miniature mice are not as fertile as normal mice, having only about half the offspring as other mice.
Tom Rickey | EurekAlert!
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