Scientists use gene editing tool to create violent mutant hamsters

A team of researchers have used the CRISPR gene editing tool to accidentally create two mutant hamsters that are violent.

@JakConnorTT
Published Wed, Jun 1 2022 8:46 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Jun 21 2022 9:11 PM CDT

A new study published in the journal Neuroscience details a team of researchers accidentally creating violent hamsters.

Scientists use gene editing tool to create violent mutant hamsters 01 | TweakTown.com

The team of researchers writes in their study that they used CRISPR gene editing technology to remove a receptor, Avpr1as, for a naturally occurring hormone called vasopressin. The gene and the hormone are designed to regulate levels of teamwork and reduce social barriers. The team was able to determine that the two hamsters the test was performed on were without the gene receptor and the hormone by performing full scans on the subjects' brains.

The researchers expected that the removal of the gene/hormone would mean the hamsters wouldn't regulate their kindness towards each other and become extremely friendly, docile, and basically non-violent. Unfortunately, the polar opposite happened as both of the hamsters exhibited extreme communication with each other, became very territorial, and showed high levels of aggression toward hamsters of the same sex.

"We produced Syrian hamsters that completely lack Avpr1as (Avpr1a knockout [KO] hamsters) using the CRISPR-Cas9 system to more fully examine the role of Avpr1a in the expression of social behaviors. We confirmed the absence of Avpr1as in these hamsters by demonstrating 1) a complete lack of Avpr1a-specific receptor binding throughout the brain, 2) a behavioral insensitivity to centrally administered AVP, and 3) an absence of the well-known blood-pressure response produced by activating Avpr1as. Unexpectedly, however, Avpr1a KO hamsters displayed more social communication behavior and aggression toward same-sex conspecifics than did their wild-type (WT) littermates," wrote the researchers.

NEWS SOURCES:boingboing.net, pnas.org

Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science and space news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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