by Vivienne Baillie Gerritsen

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This snapshot was written by Theo Gerritsen, 10 years of age, during the ‘Journée des métiers’ (‘Job day’) where children accompany one of their parents to their place of work. Theo’s original text is in French and represents an imaginary protein.

A hippopotamus has no chance of winning a race against a cheetah. Because of its weight really. But a snail is far lighter than a cheetah and could not beat it either. So what makes the difference? Lamborghinin may be the answer. Lamoborghinin is a protein that was discovered recently and seems to have a role in speed.

Up to now, lamborghinin has only been found in fast animals – hares and cheetahs etc. – but perhaps we will find it one day in other animals such as marine animals, birds, or all other animals, and perhaps even in humans or snails with a little help from Evolution.

During an experiment, Professor Schumi got a hare to race against a cheetah. The cameraman tripped over the wire and fell onto the track, and the cheetah crashed into the cameraman, and SPLATCH: bits and pieces all over the place. The professor picked up all the pieces and took them into his laboratory where he discovered a protein that no one had ever seen before. And he called it “lamborghinin”.

Lamborghinin is not immobile. It circulates not only in the hind legs but also in the front legs. It makes an animal move faster because it is stuck between its leg muscles like chewing-gum, so that it can accelerate as fast as a Lamborghini.

This formula 1 protein is very compact, quite long, and has got little spikes on it, a bit like the spines of a hedgehog. While observing it a little closer, Professor Schumi noticed that the protein formed a kind of hidden “E” that means « eüâötîr ». « eüâötîr » comes from an ancient language – so ancient that no one knows what it is called anymore – and means « fast ».

If lamborghinin is defective, it goes completely mad and animals can only do 1 cm/hour, and – in the worst of cases – 1 mm/hour. To get better, you have to run with fast things such as F1s, Ferraris, Porsches etc. The news of Professor Schumi’s discovery went round the world very fast, and people are already thinking of using it in sport to increase the performances of sprinters.

Protein Spotlight (ISSN 1424-4721) is a monthly review written by the Swiss-Prot team of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Spotlight articles describe a specific protein or family of proteins on an informal tone. Follow us: Subscribe · Twitter · Facebook