Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unusually Large Family Of Green Fluorescent Proteins Discovered In Marine Creature

Date:
May 22, 2009
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a family of green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) in a primitive sea animal, along with new clues about the role of the proteins that has nothing to do with their famous glow. They have found an unexpected role for proteins: antioxidants.

Amphioxus fluorescence is only very intense in specific areas of the mouth. The remainder of the body shows less or no fluorescence. This discrepancy in fluorescence distribution is possible because the 16 GFPs of amphioxus have different fluorescent capacities.
Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a family of green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) in a primitive sea animal, along with new clues about the role of the proteins that has nothing to do with their famous glow.

GFPs recently gained international attention with the awarding of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, shared by UC San Diego's Roger Tsien, as word spread of their extensive presence in nature as well as benefit to researchers. GFPs, originally isolated from a luminous jellyfish, have gained scientific ubiquity in uses ranging from biomedical tracers to probes for testing environmental quality. But while the value of GFPs in biomedicine and bioengineering has become evident, their diversity across the tree of life and their role in nature haven't been as easily deciphered.

New hints have emerged as Erin Bomati, a former postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Oceanography, Gerard Manning of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Scripps lead-scientist Dimitri Deheyn discovered the largest known family of GFPs. They found 16 related types of GFPs in amphioxus, a thin, non-luminous fish-like animal that lives in coastal areas and spends most of its time burrowed in ocean sand. The discovery, described in the journal BioMed Central (BMC) Evolutionary Biology, was made in Branchiostoma floridae, an amphioxus species collected off Tampa, Fla.

Amphioxus, also known as lancelets, is the closest living invertebrate relative of vertebrates and much more evolved than the jellyfish in which the original GFP discovery was made. In the paper, the researchers demonstrate that the 16 newly discovered GFPs have different characteristics of light production, some brightly fluorescent and others less or not at all.

"Despite a huge knowledge base about the biochemistry of GFPs, little is know about their biological functions and our results clearly indicate that it is not always related to fluorescence," said Deheyn.

Using a range of genetic analyses and techniques, including sequencing and cloning, the researchers discovered that some GFPs, especially those with low fluorescence capacity, could have a defense function in the wild acting as an antioxidant, working to protect the animal in times of illness or stress. It's the first evidence of the proteins being used in a role beyond glowing fluorescence within the same organism.

"Originally GFPs might have been selected for their function of being able to absorb or re-emit light, but here we show that some GFPs can also act as antioxidants," said Deheyn. "This is the first time that we have identified distinct functions in coexisting GFPs."

Deheyn said GFPs appear to suppress so-called "oxygen radicals" from harmful effects to the amphioxus' body, similar to the role antioxidants serve in human bodies.

Deheyn said the new findings will help scientists understand the evolution of this protein across the animal kingdom, while providing bioengineers and biotechnologists a new window of comparison through the novel family of GFPs and an unveiled aspect of their application. The range of colors and functions encoded by these GFPs may also help to decode which aspects of their sequences are responsible for which functions and the engineering of new forms of GFP probes.

The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Biomimetics, Biomaterials and Biointerfacial Sciences program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Erin K Bomati, Gerard Manning, Dimitri D Deheyn. Amphioxus encodes the largest known family of green fluorescent proteins, which have diversified into distinct functional classes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2009; 9 (1): 77 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-9-77

Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "Unusually Large Family Of Green Fluorescent Proteins Discovered In Marine Creature." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520161325.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2009, May 22). Unusually Large Family Of Green Fluorescent Proteins Discovered In Marine Creature. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520161325.htm
University of California - San Diego. "Unusually Large Family Of Green Fluorescent Proteins Discovered In Marine Creature." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090520161325.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