Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineered coral pigment helps scientists to observe protein movement with super-resolution

28.07.2010
Scientists in Southampton, UK, and Ulm and Karlsruhe in Germany have shown that a variant form of a fluorescent protein (FP) originally isolated from a reef coral has excellent properties as a marker protein for super-resolution microscopy in live cells. Their findings have been published online by Nature Methods and will appear in print in the upcoming August issue of that journal.

Fluorescent proteins produced by a range of marine animals glow with a rainbow of colours, adding to the visual spectacle of coral reefs. Over recent years, molecular biologists have isolated a number of FPs and their genes, and used them to create genetically engineered variant FPs with particular light-emission characteristics.

“Fluorescent pigments from corals and related animals have proved to be invaluable lead structures to produce advanced markers for biomedical research,” said Dr Jörg Wiedenmann of the University of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES) based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton: “They enable a plethora of exciting experiments, including non-invasive study of dynamical processes within live cells,”

Photoactivatable FPs (PA-FPs)can, as their name suggests, be switched on by light. When light of a particular wavelength is shone upon them they start to glow, emitting light of characteristic hue.

Wiedenmann and his collaborators previously described EosFP, a PA-FP from the reef-building coral Lobophyllia. Genetic engineering yielded the variant IrisFP with dual photoactivation capacity. In one mode it is irreversibly ‘photo-converted’ from a green- to a red-emitting form under violet light. In a second mode, these two light-emitting forms can be switched on and off more or less at will using light of different wavelengths (‘photo-switching’).

For use in cell biology experiments, PA-FPs are genetically fused to proteins of interest, and expressed in live cells. Small regions of the cell are then illuminated with laser light of specific wavelength, causing the marker proteins to emit light at another wavelength. This allows dynamical cell processes to be visualised and studied under the microscope.

In the native state, four molecules of IrisFP join together to form a tetramer, creating problems for fusion-protein applications. To get round this, the researchers have now modified the protein by introducing four mutations. This makes individual IrisFP molecules (monomers) more stable, reducing their tendency for form tetramers.

“The monomeric variant, mIrisFP, maintains dual photoactivation capacity and has excellent properties as a genetically encoded fluorescent marker protein,” explained Wiedenmann.

To test the usefulness of mIrisFP, the researchers genetically fused it with a number of other proteins within cultured cells. These included transcription factors, which regulate the expression of genes within the cell nucleus, and constituent proteins of the cell skeleton (‘cytoskeleton’). In all cases, the fusion proteins functioned normally.

Further experiments demonstrated that mIrisFP fusion proteins could, as hoped, be used to study dynamical processes within live cells with a spatial resolution beyond the limits of conventional light microscopy. Specifically, the researchers successfully combined so-called pulse-chase experiments with photoactivation localisation microscopy (PALM) imaging to follow the movement of fluorescently marked fusion proteins over time and at very high spatial resolution.

“The dual photoactivation capability and the monomeric nature of mIrisFP should allow cell biologists to perform a wider range of experiments than possible using only conventional PA-FPs,” said Wiedenmann.

“Marine animals such as corals and anemones are not only beautiful and important for ecosystem functioning, but also as source of fluorescent proteins of enormous value to biomedical research,” he added.

The research was supported supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the State of Baden-Württemberg through the Center for Functional Nanostructures, by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft grant NI 291/9, Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg and Fonds der Chemischen Industrie.

The researchers are Jochen Fuchs, Susan Boehme,Per Niklas Hedde and Ulrich Nienhaus(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology),Franz Oswald(University of Ulm), Maike Krause (Institute of Biophysics, Ulm), and Jörg Wiedenmann(SOES).

Publication:

Fuchs, J., Boehme, S., Oswald, F., Hedde, P. N., Krause, M., Wiedenmann, J. & Nienhaus, G. U. A photoactivatable marker protein for pulse-chase imaging with superresolution. Nature Methods (Published online: 4 July 2010). | doi:10.1038/nmeth.1477

http://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nmeth.1477.html

The Coral Reef Laboratory at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton: http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk/corals/

Dr. Rory Howlett | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk
http://noc.ac.uk/news/engineered-coral-pigment-helps-scientists-observe-protein-movement-super-resolution

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>