A paper in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications has been retracted because it refers to a gene that doesn't exist in mice, Retraction Watch reports.
According to Retraction Watch, the paper claimed to explore the role of interleukin-26 in the development of retinal neovascularization in a mouse model of the disease. The researchers said their work suggested IL-26 inhibits new blood vessels from forming in mice with damaged retinas.
But the journal says in its retraction notice that a reader alerted it to the fact that mice don't have an IL-26 gene. "They claim they bought the KO mouse and the mouse IL-26 protein but given that there is no mouse IL-26 gene, a purchase is not possible and in fact no such reagents are available," the reader wrote, according to Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.
The corresponding author of the paper, Zhigang Lv from Jinhua Municipal Central Hospital in China, tells Retraction Watch that they re-examined the genotypes of the mice they used to find they were not IL-26 knockouts and thus decided to retract the paper. "It is very serious that we do not show rigorous scientific attitude," Lv adds. "We are sorry for this misbehave."
Retraction Watch also notes that perhaps knowing whether a gene exists in a given animal model might be something you'd expect a reviewer to know."