Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Shedding Light On Luminescence -- Scientists Visualize Structure Of The Photoprotein Aequorin

Date:
May 24, 2000
Source:
Marine Biological Laboratory
Summary:
Anyone who's spent time at a Cape Cod beach on a warm August night has seen them: luminescing ctenophores that twinkle like tiny stars in moonlit waters. No one knows exactly why these comb jellies flicker and glow like they do, but Marine Biological Laboratory senior scientist Osamu Shimomura now knows a lot more about the structure of the remarkable protein that is not only responsible for this phenomenon in some organisms, but has proved to be an invaluable tool for researchers studying the role of calcium in disease.

Woods Hole, MA -- Anyone who's spent time at a Cape Cod beach on a warm August night has seen them: luminescing ctenophores that twinkle like tiny stars in moonlit waters. No one knows exactly why these comb jellies flicker and glow like they do, but Marine Biological Laboratory senior scientist Osamu Shimomura now knows a lot more about the structure of the remarkable protein that is not only responsible for this phenomenon in some organisms, but has proved to be an invaluable tool for researchers studying the role of calcium in disease.

In this week's issue of Nature magazine, Shimomura and his colleagues James Head from Boston University School of Medicine, Katsunori Teranishi from Mie University (Japan), and Satoshi Inouye from Chisso Corporation (Japan), describe the three-dimensional crystal structure of aequorin, one of the the photoproteins that illuminates jellyfish, ctenophores, and many other luminescing organisms. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Since his discovery of aequorin 38 years ago, Shimomura's life's work has been devoted to shedding light on luminescence--a complex chemical reaction within an organism's cells that results in the release of energy in the form of light instead of heat. Shimomura determined years ago that aequorin glows blue when tiny amounts of calcium bind to it.

This discovery led to the use of aequorin as an important biomedical tool for tracking the movement of calcium within cells. Calcium plays a crucial role in the regulation of a variety of biological processes including fertilization, muscle contraction, and the transmission of nerve impulses. Clinicians also recognize that calcium is significant in the pathology of a number of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's.

Much has been learned over the years about aequorin and its recyclable form, apoaequorin. But, says Shimomura, "We've been working blind for many years." Until now, no one has been able to visualize the actual three-dimensional crystal structure of this important protein, something Osamu Shimomura has dreamed of doing since first discovering aequorin.

Now that Shimomura and his colleagues know the exact structure of aequorin, they'll be better able to study how the protein functions in concert with other chemicals, and, possibly, enhance its usefulness as a biological marker.

"One of the most exciting outcomes of knowing the structure of aequorin is that it offers the potential for us to 'custom' design molecules that are able to sense different molecules or ions," explains co-author James Head of Boston University School of Medicine. "These would then 'wink' at us, with light emission, when a certain molecule is encountered. It is possible that, based on the current structure, we may be able to engineer the protein to respond to different ions at different ranges of concentrations, and conceivably combine the aequorin structure with other protein domains that bind entirely different molecules to produce completely new sensors. This has the potential to provide a family of biosensors for use in biological systems, and, under the right conditions, possibly also for use in industrial settings."

The Marine Biological Laboratory is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, that undertakes the highest level of creative research and education in biology, including the biomedical and environmental sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Marine Biological Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Marine Biological Laboratory. "Shedding Light On Luminescence -- Scientists Visualize Structure Of The Photoprotein Aequorin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522082947.htm>.
Marine Biological Laboratory. (2000, May 24). Shedding Light On Luminescence -- Scientists Visualize Structure Of The Photoprotein Aequorin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522082947.htm
Marine Biological Laboratory. "Shedding Light On Luminescence -- Scientists Visualize Structure Of The Photoprotein Aequorin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/05/000522082947.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins