GFP description

GFP description - I NFORM ATION FOR THE PUBLIC The Nobel...

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1(7) The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008 ± The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences ± www.kva.se The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008 I NFORMATION FOR THE PUBLIC How the Jellyf sh’s Green Light Revolutionised Bioscience In the 1960s, when the Japanese scientist Osamu Shimomura began to study the bioluminescent jelly- f sh Aequorea victoria , he had no idea what a scientif c revolution it would lead to. Thirty years later, Martin Chalf e used the jellyf sh’s green fl uorescent protein to help him study liFe’s smallest building block, the cell. Today, scientists are able to study biological processes that were previously invisible with the aid oF Roger Y. Tsien’s proteins, which glow in all colours oF the rainbow. When scientists develop methods to help them see things that were once invisible, research always takes a great leap forward. For example, when Anton van Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope in the 17 th century a new world opened up. Scientists could suddenly see bacteria, sperm and blood cells. Things they previously did not know even existed. This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry rewards a similar effect on science. The green f uorescent pro- tein , GFP , has functioned in the past decade as a guiding star for biochemists, biologists, medical scientists and other researchers. The strong green colour of this protein appears under blue and ultraviolet light. It can, for example, illuminate growing cancer tumours; show the development of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain or the growth of pathogenic bacteria. An even more interesting use of GFP means that researchers can actually follow processes inside individual cells. The body consists of billions of cells, from pumping heart muscle cells and insulin-producing beta cells to macrophages that destroy unwelcome bacteria. The more researchers know about a cell type – how it develops and functions – the greater the chance that they can develop effective drugs with minimal side-effects. Studying the machinery of these 0.02 millimetre sized cells is not easy. Observing the building blocks of a cell: proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates and other molecules is beyond the power of an ordinary microscope. And it is even more dif± cult to follow chemical processes within a cell, but it is at this detailed level that scientists must work. When researchers understand how cells start building new blood vessels, for example, they might be able to stop cancer tumours from acquiring a nourishing and oxygenating vessel system. This will prevent their growth. The chemical processes of cells are usually regulated by proteins. There are tens of thousands of different proteins, each with different functions. By connecting GFP to one of these pro- teins, researchers can obtain vital information. They can see which cells a particular protein inhabits, they can follow its movements and watch its interactions with other proteins. Thanks to GFP’s green light scientists can now track a single protein under the microscope.
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This note was uploaded on 07/15/2009 for the course BIO 208 taught by Professor Lorne-mendell,s during the Fall '08 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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GFP description - I NFORM ATION FOR THE PUBLIC The Nobel...

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