What do a zebrafish and Dragon Ball’s Krillin have in common?

What do a zebrafish and Dragon Ball’s Krillin have in common?

The zebrafish is an interesting member of the minnow family for a number of reasons. They cute, fairly cheap, and relatively easy to take care of as pets making them great for warming up the old homestead. On the other hand, they are widely used in labs due to their speedy reproduction and development along with their fully sequenced genome.

Krillin, meanwhile, is an interesting recurring character of the Dragon Ball series. The most popular fully human character, he has developed the power of flight and powerful energy disc. He’s also one of the more versatile dressers of the series sporting outfits and hairstyles beyond his fighting gear.

So what is it that connects this fictional fighter to the freshwater fish?

The answer was revealed on Twitter recently by someone scouring scientific literature.

ゼブラフィッシュの変異型で鼻がちゃんと形成されず匂いを感じない個体がいるんだけど、この鼻の形成に関わる遺伝子を『クリリン』と言う。ドラゴンボールマニアの研究者が命名した。マジで論文も出てた。 http://t.co/TTMBcNl0Cw pic.twitter.com/BgJ7lGlZN6

— ジェット・リョー (@ikazombie) March 28, 2014

The Twitter user mercifully explains the meaning of the scientific jargon in the image saying that there is a mutant variety of zebra fish with an improperly developed olfactory system and thus nearly complete inability to smell. This mutant and the gene responsible for it were both named kuririn (abbreviated as KRR).

Fans of Dragon Ball have surely already jumped to the conclusion that Krillin (Or Kuririn in Japanese), despite being one of the most human characters, oddly lacks a nose. Clearly we have an Akira Toriyama fan or two on that research team. However, it would seem pop-culture references could be found tucked away in many scientific journals.

Zebrafish also have very strong regenerative abilities such as regrowing lost body parts; something else these two seem to have in common.

Souther Gene
Research studying flies with situs inversus isolated the gene responsible which he dubbed the Souther gene (Myo31DFsouther). Situs inversus is the condition where a person’s internal organs such as the heart are found on the opposite side of the body than normal. This condition was a big part of what made the Holy Emperor Souther such a formidable opponent in Fist of the North Star.

Sonic Hedgehog Gene
The sonic hedgehog (SHH) gene plays a role in the creation of body parts during early development. While the name is clearly a reference to the video game Sonic the Hedgehog, it was actually based on the hedgehog gene (HH) discovered in 1980. The original hedgehog gene was named such because if its slightly spiky appearance

Pikachurin
Pikachurin is a protein that functions in the photoreceptor ribbon synapse which is basically the process in which the eyes and brain communicate. For the body to work such a process effective it takes the fast and precise movements of its name sake Pikachu. However, Pikachurin is said to assist in eye health whereas Pikachu can at times be bad for it.

WARNING: The following video is said to possibly induce epileptic seizures

There are probably lots of other proteins and genes named after manga, anime, and video game characters. To uncover them, all you have to do is head down to your local library and start flipping through back issues of scientific journals. Go ahead! I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Source: Twitter via My Game News Flash (Japanese)
Video: YouTube – MrAndyCretin , Code0x , Curseco
Zebrafish Image: Wikipedia – Azul
Sonic Hedgehog Image: Wikipedia – Peter Znamenskiy

Advertisements
What do a zebrafish and Dragon Ball’s Krillin have in common?