Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nobel prize for discoverers of green fluorescent protein

Little did we know that the second assignment for our students taking module BES514 'Molecular & Cellular Biology' would be so topical! By now you have probably heard that the Nobel prize for Chemistry has gone this year to three scientists who discovered the green fluorescent protein (GFP) in jellyfish. Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien shared the prize and it's amazing to think that as far back as 1961, Shimomura had to process 10,000 jellyfish in order to isolate GFP. During the second assignment for module BES514, not are students learning about how proteins are tagged with GFP, by using clever mammalian expression systems like the Clontech In-fusion system, but they are now hearing of the fantastic and widespread use of this fluorescent technology to label varied populations of live cells. Whoever said science wasn't art should take a look at this image and more, which can be seen at the following link to an Associated Press article. See how scientists at Harvard University have produced stunning images of mouse brain cells using a range of fluorescent proteins.

If you would like to understand the technology behind the production of this and more fluorescent tissue, read Livet et al, 2008 the Nature paper which explains all (Nature (2007), 450:56-63).

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