Superheroes possess exceptional characteristics that far exceed the scope of human capabilities, such as the tremendous strength and pigmentation observed in The Incredible Hulk following his exposure to γ-radiation. Here, we explore the underlying molecular mechanisms for the “superhuman” abilities seen in the Hulk, as compared to semi-superheroes Papa Smurf and Popeye the Sailor. In particular, we examine the role of epigenetic mechanisms, principally DNA methylation, in the genotypic expression of “super” genes and their phenotypic manifestation.
Whole Transcriptome Shotgun Sequencing (WTSS) was conducted on The Incredible Hulk, Popeye the Sailor, and Papa Smurf to identify “super” genes. Whole Genome Shotgun Sequencing (WGSS) was subsequently performed on the Hulk, from which chromosome γ was assembled and Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes (BAC) were created. FISH-karyotyping was then employed for chromosome examination before and after treatment with γ-radiation. Methylation assays were conducted on CpG islands upstream of “super” genes to assess gene expression following treatment with activator substances spinach and smurf berries.
See the data and the full paper (pdf and full text copy) at the Science Creative Quarterly.