Archive for November 21st, 2008

November 21, 2008

Live in the Dark? Make Your Own Light!

figure one from the PLOS One study

Heard of GFP?  Green fluorescent protein is one of a slew of fluorescent proteins (FPs) used in the field of molecular biology and biotechnology to visualize genetic expression patterns in model organisms and live cells.  The original GFP, like nearly all other FPs, was sourced from various marine invertebrates hailing out of shallow water habitats including corals and jellyfish. 

Interestingly, it looks like we might be able to get fluorescent proteins from ceriantharians (otherwise known as tube anemones) that live in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, as crazy as that might sound.  Many deep sea residents are known to emit their own light – such as the counter illumination seen on some species in order to blend their bellies with the brightness of water layers above them when viewed from below.  A team of researchers recently published to PLOS One their findings of a new GFP-like protein that might prove useful in future live cell visualization studies.  This of course, makes me think of one of my favorite movies as a kid – The Abyss – where the “aliens” were similarly brilliant with bioluminescence.