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Proteins shine a brighter light on cellular processes
Date:3/20/2012

Scientists have designed a molecule which, in living cells, emits turquoise light three times brighter than possible until recently. This improves the sensitivity of cellular imaging, a technique where biological processes inside a living organism are imaged at high resolution. The results have been published in Nature Communications on 20 March 2012.

The lead author of the publication is Antoine Royant from the Institut de Biologie Structurale (CNRS/CEA/University Joseph-Fourier) in Grenoble. The team also comprised scientists from the Universities of Amsterdam and Oxford and from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble.

Cyan fluorescent proteins (CFPs) are very popular in cell biology where they are used to make visible, like in a movie, processes inside a living cell or changes in the shape of large biological molecules. Since the early 1990s, fluorescent proteins have become one of the most important tools used in the biosciences and have helped the observation of previously invisible processes such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread. The 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry crowned their discovery and rapid development.

CFPs allow mapping of many processes in living cells when they can be attached to a protein involved in an interaction or a conformational change. The CFP inside the cell, and thus the target of the observation, is localised by illuminating the cell with blue light which makes the fluorescent protein emit light of a characteristic colour, which is cyan for CFPs. However, these molecules have long suffered from a weak fluorescence level, converting merely 36% of the incoming blue into cyan light.

To achieve higher brightness, and with it improved sensitivity of fluorescent imaging, the scientists based in France, led by Antoine Royant, teamed up with colleagues from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

First, using highly brilli
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Contact: Claus Habfast
claus.habfast@esrf.fr
33-476-882-128
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Source:Eurekalert  

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