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Cell transformation

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Cell transformation

Postby MonkeyFace » Thu Jan 07, 2010 5:03 pm

Greetings all, I have what I have deduced to be a rather hard query.

Recently my younger cousin acquired a book series by the name of "Animorphs"; I don't know how many here have heard of/read this series but I picked up one of his books and flicked through it.

The book concerned several teenagers who were given the ability to gain samples of animal DNA through touch and could consequently morph to those animals at will (hence the term "Animorphs"). These teenagers were infused with this power with alien technology.

I wondered whether or not there was a scientific explanation for this whole "morph by will" process, and whether it could be infused in somebody? I am preferably looking for answers that would take into account the technology we have at the current moment, or that of the near future - alien technology, to me, seems too fictional to contemplate.

Please bear in mind that I would like to know whether this would be possible with a spliced organism - for example, human to half-human, half-pig.

This is what I have deduced so far along with a Biolgoy major I communicate with from America:

1) Subject is implanted with a chip in the brain containing artifical neuroreceptors that respond with the biological transmitters associated with a certain emotion to allow the transformation to take place "by will" - or by recall of said emotion. I believe this would be possible with "near-future" nanotechnology.

2) As for the actual transformation, I would assume the concept behind gene/DNA splicing would suffice as "half-human, half-pig" in this instance. What I have trouble with is the concept of actually being to force that tranrformation of cells from normal to not, and back again. If what I have read is correct, the process of mitosis can take anywhere between 10-137 minutes. It's been suggested that metabolism could be speeded up to reidiculous levels to achieve this rapid transformation but it's also been said that that is a rather farfetched solution. Is there perhaps a better solution to this?

3) Assming there is a better explanation for the rate of transformation, there is also the question of how the transformation would occur. Theoretically, could the spliced chromosomes replace the normal chromosomes in the normal cells so that the result would be spliced daughter cells? Is there a better way to do that?

4) There is also the problem of the being able to morph back, where I am at a complete loss.

Please bear in mind that I am not a particularly brilliant Biology student in school and so I may have got my ideas completely mixed up.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my lengthy post and eagerly await any suggestions/corrections you can make.

Thank you.
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Postby JackBean » Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:36 pm

So, what you are suggesting, if I understand correct, is:
Let's have, call it, organism, which has half chromosomes human and half pig, probably joined (or what do you mean by spliced?) and when it will, its cells divide and by this they become pig' and the human cells probably die?

Just the point of gaining DNA by touch and incorporating into your own genome is quite... well, inproper.
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

Cis or trans? That's what matters.
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Postby MonkeyFace » Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:51 pm

Gaining DNA by touch was just part of the book, it wasn't that which I could see having an actual explanation.

What I am suggesting can be explained by means of a fictional werewolf: it has the ability to switch bewteen wolf and human. However, in my scenario, the wolf is a mix of two seperates creatures, essentially.

I apologise if I was unclear.
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Postby JackBean » Thu Jan 07, 2010 9:33 pm

I think I got that idea ;) But you wrote something about mitosis...
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

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Postby kolean » Fri Jan 08, 2010 12:33 am

Well with epigenetics, you could program the chromatin to 'silence' the genes required for the animal characteristics that you want. It could then be unsilenced with a specific regulator (such as a hormone, or another protein, or even miRNA?) and begin producing the gene products needed (which is what you will have to decide what characteristics do you want of the animal).
The concept of time is what would have me stumped too. And I don't think you want mitosis to happen. That only duplicates the cell, and that takes time to do. You just want to produce the gene products needed for expression (let the cell make them and secrete them out, and travel to wear they need to be).
Then another specific regulator to turn it off, or if the first regulator is discontinued, then the genes will be 'silenced' again.
Then again, I am wondering if at the beginning of dna duplication during S phase, the epigenetic pattern could be reprogrammed as the dna is replicated (unsilence the animal genes), and proceed thru mitosis, and have cells that are unique in expressing the genes for the animorph. Let the cells proceed with the expressed animal genes, and then revert back when entering the S phase again, and let the dna go back to normal. . . . . have to speed up the time though.
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Re:

Postby MonkeyFace » Fri Jan 08, 2010 3:31 pm

Thank you for your explanation and ideas. Like I said, I know little about Biology, so that was certainly interesting. Would either of the ideas be applicable in the near future?

Yes, the time scale is seeming to cause great problems at the moment.

JackBean wrote:I think I got that idea ;) But you wrote something about mitosis...


Yes, I happened across the possibility that if the daughter cells of mitosis were the spliced cells, once the original cell died (assuming this went on on a large scale) there would be purely the spliced cells left.
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Postby JackBean » Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:37 am

What do you mean all the time by spliced cells and spliced chromosomes?
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Postby MonkeyFace » Sat Jan 09, 2010 4:59 pm

As in, half animal, half human cells.

So basically the subject would morph from human to half-human, half-pig (for example).
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Postby mith » Sun Jan 10, 2010 4:00 am

I remember watching a batman beyond episode (splicers) that has a similar theme. One of the most amazing moment was when the "bull-human" reverted back to human form, his horns shrank back into his skull! Assuming you had some sort of super fast degradation cell similar to osteoclasts, that kind of cell would be foreign to both humans and bulls XD.

Anyways, assuming you kept basic skeletal structures and didn't drastically change your organs, I guess you could sort of molt your way out to transform back.
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Postby MonkeyFace » Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:37 pm

That's not ideal :/
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Postby mith » Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:44 am

well transformations aren't ideal lol
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Postby MonkeyFace » Mon Jan 11, 2010 4:49 pm

Yeah, I know. I appreciate all the help you've all given me. I guess I'll just have to keep looking ^.^
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