Human Kidney acquires a Woolly Mammoth Gene!

In a fascinating scientific breakthrough, scientists have transplanted a gene (TRPV3) from a spare woolly mammoth rump into a human kidney. The mammoth – frozen for 35,372 years – was discovered in a freezer at Muckatuk’s Emporium, a popular eatery just north of latitude 74 on the Going-to-Chukchi-Sea Highway in Siberia. Mr Muckatuk claims he bought the meat from his brother-in-law, a local entrepreneur. Rather than delighting patrons with a mess of his signature woolly rump stew, Muckatuk sold a prime slice of frozen mammoth rump to a team of visiting geneticists.

Muckluk's Diner, est. 1902.

Muckatuk’s Diner, as it appeared in 1902. (Like the flag?)
Photo by Ria Novosti.

Kidneys, awaiting genetic enhancement

Kidneys, awaiting genetic enhancement

The peripatetic biologists took the meat home. In an unusual experiment, a string of DNA extracted from the mammoth piece of meat was stitched into a human kidney. As almost any physician can be persuaded to attest, human kidneys often get cold. This can lead to a condition called icy waters, an uncomfortable disorder which village witches used to cure with hot herbal tea. However, using gene splicing, doctors now have a more sophisticated treatment for icy waters.  After sewing the mammoth’s hardy TRPV3 gene into the human kidney (the patient was probably anesthetized), attending interns tested the cold resistance of the freshly-enhanced kidney. As it turned out, the patient seemed unaware of dry ice pressing against his kidney. The experiment was considered a success – mammoth genes can grow in human kidneys! And they exhibit qualities that can make Siberian winters enjoyable.

To read another version of this same story, you can check this original research paper, or maybe this newsy article. By the way, some scientists think that TRPV3 is also responsible for the wool on the woolly mammoth, so the kidney may need shaved regularly. (As always, consult a physician before trying this, or any other, genetic transplant at home.)

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Culture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Human Kidney acquires a Woolly Mammoth Gene!

  1. I checked it out. HEK293 really is a human kidney cell line; I thought you were having us on. Nice illustrations, though.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s