Dolly (5 July 1996 – 14 February 2003) was a female domestic sheep, and the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer. She was cloned by Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and colleagues at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, and the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics near Edinburgh in Scotland, the United Kingdom. The funding for Dolly's cloning was provided by PPL Therapeutics and the Ministry of Agriculture. She has been called "the world's most famous sheep" by sources including BBC News and Scientific American.
The cell used as the donor for the cloning of Dolly was taken from a mammary gland, and the production of a healthy clone therefore proved that a cell taken from a specific part of the body could recreate a whole individual. On Dolly's name, Wilmut stated "Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell and we couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's".
Dolly was born on 5 July 1996 and had three mothers (one provided the egg, another the DNA and a third carried the cloned embryo to term). She was created using the technique of somatic cell nuclear transfer, where the cell nucleus from an adult cell is transferred into an unfertilised oocyte (developing egg cell) that has had its cell nucleus removed. The hybrid cell is then stimulated to divide by an electric shock, and when it develops into a blastocyst it is implanted in a surrogate mother.
Dolly was the first clone produced from a cell taken from an adult mammal. The production of Dolly showed that genes in the nucleus of such a maturedifferentiated somatic cell are still capable of reverting to an embryonic totipotent state, creating a cell that can then go on to develop into any part of an animal. Dolly's existence was announced to the public on 22 February 1997.
Dolly lived her entire life at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. There she was bred with a Welsh Mountain ram and produced six lambs in total. Her first lamb, named Bonnie, was born in April 1998. The next year Dolly produced twin lambs Sally and Rosie, and she gave birth to triplets Lucy, Darcy and Cotton in the year after that. In late 2001, at the age of four, Dolly developed arthritis and began to walk stiffly. This was treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.
On 14 February 2003, Dolly was euthanised because she had a progressive lung disease and severe arthritis. A Finn Dorset such as Dolly has a life expectancy of around 11 to 12 years, but Dolly lived to be only a month over 6.5 years of age. Roslin scientists stated that they did not think there was a connection with Dolly being a clone, and that other sheep in the same flock had died of the same disease. Such lung diseases are a particular danger for sheep kept indoors, and Dolly had to sleep inside for security reasons.
In biology, cloning is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments (molecular cloning), cells (cell cloning), or organisms.
The term clone is derived from the Ancient Greek word κλών klōn, "twig", referring to the process whereby a new plant can be created from a twig. In horticulture, the spelling clon was used until the twentieth century; the final e came into use to indicate the vowel is a "long o" instead of a "short o". Since the term entered the popular lexicon in a more general context, the spelling clone has been used exclusively.
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