“Shock me like an electric eel.” Apart from the lyrics in MGMT’s iconic hit, “Electric Feel,” the phrase likely doesn’t bring more to mind than “ouch!” to us humans. But to creatures sharing an ecosystem in the Amazon, co-existing with electric eels and their jolting aura is a lifelong experience.
Recently, researchers at Nagoya University hypothesized that the high-voltage electric organ discharges (EOD) given off by the Electrophorus during feeding may have the ability to deliver nucleic acid material to other organisms in the vicinity of their electric shocks. This shock-mediated horizontal transfer of nucleic acids may then have coincidental effects on the local ecosystem and its residents. To test their hypothesis, the researchers investigated the ability of the eel EOD to deliver GFP-encoding plasmids to zebrafish larvae. The eel was housed in a special tank fitted with a compartment containing a cuvette filled with zebrafish larvae, suspended in a solution of saltwater with the GFP-encoding plasmid DNA at a concentration of 1 ng/µl. The EOD was induced by baiting the eel with prey, which exposed the cuvette to the EOD for approximately 30 seconds. One day post exposure, the zebrafish larvae were viewed under a fluorescent microscope to assess expression of GFP.
Shockingly, the zebrafish larvae exhibited expression of GFP on the dorsal skin, yolk surface and eye! The authors concluded that though some variability in expression exists due to the non-uniform electric pulses given off by the eel during EOD delivery, their study supports the hypothesis that electric shock from these eels can result in nucleic acid delivery to surrounding organisms. How stunning!
Electroporation is commonly used to introduce nucleic acids to difficult-to-transfect cell types. While we at Mirus Bio are not purveyors of electric eels, we do offer the Ingenio® EZporator® Electroporation System for all your eukaryotic electroporation needs.
Have questions about electroporation and how Ingenio® can make your workflow ‘EZ’-ier? Give us a shout at email@example.com!
Title: Electric organ discharge from electric eel facilitates DNA transformation into teleost larvae in laboratory conditions
Authors: Shintaro Sakaki, Reo Ito et al.
Journal: PeerJ Life and Environment, Volume 11, December 2023.