The Lysine Contingency was a genetic alteration Henry Wu performed in the dinosaur genome. The modification knocked out the ability of the dinosaurs to produce the amino acid Lysine. This forced the dinosaurs to depend on lysine supplements provided by the park's veterinary staff. In this way dinosaurs could never escape from the park because they would never survive long without the food supplements. It was also explained that without the Lysine; the animals will collapse into a coma and eventually die.
In reality this would be either impossible or useless. None of the vertebrates (or other animal phyla) can produce Lysine, making it an essential amino acid. All animals (including humans) can survive simply by having a lysine rich diet.
Because all known animals lack the ability to produce Lysine, it's unlikely that dinosaurs had. But if they had a pathway for lysine synthesis it would have been like the pathway in plants. Essential enzymes involved in this biosynthesis pathway are:
- β-aspartate semialdehyde dehydrogenase
- Dihydropicolinate synthase
- Δ1-piperidine-2,6-dicarboxylate dehydrogenase
- N-succinyl-2-amino-6ketopimelate synthase
- Succinyl diaminopimelate aminotransferase
- Succinyl diaminopimelate desuccinylase
- Diaminopimelate epimerase
- Diaminopimelate decarboxylase.
If Henry Wu wanted to make the dinosaurs Lysine deficient he could have mutated the gene or genes that coded for one of these enzymes.
In the novel and movie, dinosaurs survive the Lysine contingency by eating Lysine rich food, like chickens or soya beans. And carnivores could acquire Lysine by eating herbivores.
Jurassic Park: The Game Edit
While the Lysine contingency was hardly mentioned in the movies, it plays a major role in Jurassic Park: The Game. Laura Sorkin, another InGen scientist, says that the Lysine Contingency was "cruel and unnecessary", and stated it as "a kill switch". The concept is introduced in the scenario Sorkin's Lab. Dr. Sorkin won't leave the island unless she can add Lysine to the water supply of the Parasaurolophus herd. In Water Treatment Sorkin adds Lysine to the main water supply on the island. In this way all animals will have access to Lysine for a long time. Sorkin and Gerry Harding have constant arguments in the following scenarios about whether this was a wise thing to do.
Operation Genesis Edit
In Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis the player can add a genetic modification to the dinosaurs to kill them if they break out. But this is a lethal gene. When the player activates this gene the animal dies. This is a more realistic alternative to a Lysine knock-out.