Biophysicists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have joined forces with colleagues from France and Germany to create a new fluorescent protein. Besides glowing when irradiated with ultraviolet and blue light, it is exceedingly small and stable under high temperatures. The authors of the paper, published in the journal Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, believe the protein holds prospects for fluorescence microscopy. This technique is used in research on cancer, infectious diseases, and organ development, among other things.
Fluorescence microscopy is a method for studying living tissue that relies on induced luminescence. After being exposed to laser radiation at a particular wavelength, some proteins emit light at a different wavelength. This induced "glow" can be analyzed using a special microscope.
Petri dish with bacteria genetically modified to produce a fluorescent protein. The glowing symbol is a logo of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
Credit: Vera Nazarenko et al.
Researchers append such fluorescent proteins to other proteins via genetic engineering to make the latter ones visible to the microscope and observe their behavior in cells. Fluorescence microscopy proved so scientifically valuable that one Nobel Prize was awarded for its discovery, followed by another one for radically improving the method's accuracy.
Up until now, the fluorescent proteins used for such observations had several flaws. They were vulnerable to heat, fairly bulky, and only glowed in the presence of oxygen.
"For one thing, our protein is more thermostable than its analogues: It only denaturates at 68 degrees Celsius," said the paper's lead author Vera Nazarenko from the MIPT Laboratory of Structural Analysis and Engineering of Membrane Systems. "It is also miniature, while most of the currently used fluorescent proteins are rather bulky. On top of that, it can emit light in the absence of oxygen."
The team originally identified the protein with these remarkable properties in the cells of a the thermophilic bacterium -- that is, one which lives in high-temperature environments, such as hot springs. The researchers then genetically engineered a DNA sequence that reproduced the protein's fluorescent segment but not the other parts, which would make the molecule larger.
By introducing the gene that encodes the protein into the cells of another bacterium, Escherichia coli, the team turned it into a factory mass-producing the fluorescent protein with unique properties.
Researchers studying the processes that occur in living cells have been waiting for a protein combining these crucial features for a long time. By introducing it into cells, they can now obtain essential data on cell life and death. To name a few applications, fluorescence microscopy is seen as one of the best tools for investigating the mechanism behind malignant tumor genesis and development. It is also useful for research on cell signaling and organ development.
The proteins previously used in fluorescence microscopy were bulky and thermally unstable, putting limitations on the method. Thanks to the MIPT team, that obstacle has been eliminated.
Varvara Bogomolova | EurekAlert!
Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
10.12.2019 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Could dark carbon be hiding the true scale of ocean 'dead zones'?
10.12.2019 | University of Plymouth
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...
Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...
University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making
In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...
With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction
The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...
Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.
Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds
03.12.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
15.11.2019 | Event News
10.12.2019 | Architecture and Construction
10.12.2019 | Information Technology
10.12.2019 | Life Sciences