Scientists discover new glowing protein beneficial to study essential data on life and death

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

A team of biophysicists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in collaboration with scientists from France and Germany have discovered a small size protein that glows with ultraviolet irradiation and blue light. According to reports, the proteins has fluorescence microscopy and is also stable under high temperatures.

This feature of the protein makes it conducive in studying living tissues which are dependent on luminescence. This is especially useful in research related to cancer, infectious diseases and organ development among others. Lead author Vera Nazarenko commented “For one thing, our protein is more thermostable than its analogs: It only denaturates at 68 degrees Celsius. It is also miniature, while most of the currently used fluorescent proteins are rather bulky. On top of that, it can emit light in the absence of oxygen,” Nazarenko is from the MIPT Laboratory of Structural Analysis and Engineering of Membrane Systems.

The protein was allegedly first found in the cells of a thermophilic bacterium. This drew attention to the fact that the protein could live in high-temperature environments, such as in hot springs. The team then genetically induced the DNA sequence which reproduced the protein’s fluorescent segment. This process made the molecule larger and the team also encoded the protein into cells of Escherichia coli, which is another form of the bacterium. The team was thus able to create a mass production of a protein with unique properties.

This has proven to be beneficial in studying essential data on life and death. Fluorescence microscopy helps in studying living tissue. The protein when exposed to radiation, can be analyzed under a special microscope. The method of fluorescence microscopy can be used to examine the mechanism behind tumor genesis and development. Moreover, it is also useful in the analysis of cell signaling and organ development.

This research has been published in the Journal Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences and also highlights the fact that previous proteins used in fluorescence microscopy were bulky and thermally unstable. This had its own limitations, but the new experiments have found a way to circumvent this obstacle.