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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

Print version ISSN 0025-7680On-line version ISSN 1669-9106


PEREZ MILLAN, María Inés  and  BECU-VILLALOBOS, Damasia. The Green Fluorescent Protein that glows in Bioscience. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2009, vol.69, n.3, pp.370-374. ISSN 0025-7680.

Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is a protein produced by the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, that emits bioluminescence in the green zone of the visible spectrum. The GFP gene has been cloned and is used in molecular biology as a marker. The three researchers that participated independently in elucidating the structure and function of this and its related proteins, Drs. Shimomura, Chalfie and Tsien were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008. Dr. Shimomura discovered and studied the properties of GFP. Using molecular biological techniques, Chalfie succeeded in introducing the GFP gene into the DNA of the small, almost transparent worm C. elegans, and initiated an era in which GFP would be used as a glowing marker for cellular biology. Finally, Dr.Tsien found precisely how GFP's structure produces the observed green fluorescence, and succeeded in modifying the structure to generate molecules that emit light at slightly different wavelengths, which gave tags of different colors. Fluorescent proteins are very versatile and are being used in many areas, such as microbiology, biotechnology, physiology, environmental engineering, development, etc. They can, for example, illuminate growing cancer tumours; show the development of Alzheimer's disease, or detect arsenic traces in water. Finding the key to how a marine organism produces light unexpectedly ended up providing researchers with a powerful array of tools with which to visualize cell biology in action.

Keywords : GFP; Bioluminiscence; Aequorin; Cre/LoxP.

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