Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Going Green
17 March 2012

Going Green

The glimmering green of St Patrick’s Day is not only significant for the Irish community. Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) has emerged as one of the most versatile (and beautiful) biological research tools. First isolated in the 1960s by Osamu Shimomura from the Aequorea victoria jellyfish, the protein was found to fluoresce in green when exposed to ultraviolet blue light. The true value of GFP, however, was not revealed until the 1990s. By combining the gene that produces GFP with the DNA of C. Elegans, Martin Chalfie designed a luminous genetic tag. Researchers can hook this up to a gene of interest, then sit back and watch a huge variety of cellular processes. Here, GFP (bright streaks) highlights activity of the alpha-actin gene in one-day old zebrafish embryo muscle cells. The Nobel Prize-winning discovery of GFP has shone a new light on the workings of diseases from Alzheimer’s to HIV.

Written by Anthony Lewis

  • Sudipto Roy
  • Originally published under Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND); Courtesy of Wellcome Images

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