Navigation Links
Behind a marine creature's bright green fluorescent glow

Pushing closer to understanding the mechanisms behind the mysterious glow of light produced naturally by certain animals, scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have deciphered the structural components related to fluorescence brightness in a primitive sea creature.

In a study published in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal of the Nature Publishing Group, Dimitri Deheyn and his colleagues at Scripps Oceanography, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have conducted the most detailed examination of green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) in lancelets, marine invertebrates also known as "amphioxus." The fish-shaped animals, which spend much of their time in shallow coastal regions burrowed in sand except for their heads, offer unique insights on natural fluorescence since individual specimens can emit both very bright and much dimmer versions of the light, a rare capability in the animal kingdom.

The study carries implications for a variety of industries looking to maximize brightness of natural fluorescencethe process of transformation of blue "excitation" light into green "emission" lightincluding applications in biotechnology such as adapting fluorescence for biomedical protein tracers and for tracking the expression of specific genes in the human body.

In investigating the structural differences between the proteins with the two levels of light output, known to be generated by the GFPs inside amphioxus, Deheyn and his colleagues found that only a few key structural differences at the nanoscale allows the sea creature to emit different brightness levels. The differences relate to changes in stiffness around the animal's "chromophore pocket," the area of proteins responsible for molecular transformation of light, and thus light output intensity.

"We discovered that some of the amphioxus GFPs are able to transform blue light into green light with 100 percent efficiency (current engineered GFPstraditionally rooted in the Cnidarian phylumonly reach 60 to 80 percent efficiency), which combines with other properties of light absorbance to make the amphioxus GFPs about five times brighter than current commercially available GFPs, resulting in effect to a huge difference," said Deheyn. "It is also interesting that the same animal will also express similar GFPs with an efficiency of about 1,000 times less."

The exact mechanism that controls this ability of perfect efficiency during light transformation from blue to green remains unknown, Deheyn said, but this study opens doors towards its understanding.

"The most unique part of this discovery perhaps lays in the fact that for the first time, we show that different GFPs seem to have different functions within the same individual and unrelated to their ability to produce light, thus probably involving a biochemical role as well," said Deheyn. "Nevertheless, having bright GFPs or the tool to increase brightness in current ones is critical for optimizing applications of fluorescence."

Amphioxus are thought to use fluorescence for photo-protection (thus acting as sunscreen), as an antioxidant, and possibly for photo-sensing (using GFPs as receptors to the surrounding light) in their environment. Deheyn says learning more about bright-emitting GFPs in nature is useful for a variety of applications and fields of science.

"The U.S. Air Force, and the Department of Defense in general, uses a large variety of biosensors in biomedicine, bioengineering, and materials science, and providing proteins with the ability to be very bright can help technology advance because of better signal-to-noise ratio."


Contact: Mario Aguilera or Robert Monroe
University of California - San Diego

Related biology news :

1. New insight into mechanisms behind autoimmune diseases suggests a potential therapy
2. Culprit behind unchecked angiogenesis identified
3. Nowhere to hide: New device sees bacteria behind the eardrum
4. New report puts real numbers behind history of oyster reefs
5. Delving into the molecular mechanism behind deep-sea bacterias pressure tolerance
6. U OF A expert pinpoints nutrient behind fresh water algae blooms
7. Researchers describe new molecular interactions behind the inhibition of TGF beta-signaling
8. Behind closed doors: Researchers show how probiotics boost plant immunity
9. Researchers discover 2 genetic flaws behind common form of inherited muscular dystrophy
10. Scientists sniff out the substances behind the aroma in the king of fruits
11. Researchers find new genetic pathway behind neurodevelopmental disorders
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , ... the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was ... 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings ... flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016 Research ... Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market is ... during the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis ... can be used to compute factors that are ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... BOCA RATON, Florida , March 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect ... Synthetic DNA in ink used in a variety of ... preventing theft. Buyers of originally created collectibles from athletes ... authenticity through forensic analysis of the DNA. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics ... development and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class ... Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting ... significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... YORK , June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign ... to envision new ways to harness living systems and ... Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City ... than 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste ... Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis ... Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 ... single and multiple ascending dose studies designed to ... (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... (SC) either as a single dose (ranging from ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Regulatory Compliance ... consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality Investigations: Getting to ... 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still a major concern ...
Breaking Biology Technology: