Roger Tsien Lecture On Green Florescent Protein

Posted on July 29, 2009  Comments (0)

Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien discusses his research on green florescent protein. From the Nobel Prize web site:

n the 1960s, when the Japanese scientist Osamu Shimomura began to study the bioluminescent jelly-fish Aequorea victoria, he had no idea what a scientific revolution it would lead to. Thirty years later, Martin Chalfie used the jellyfish’s green fluorescent protein to help him study life’s smallest building block, the cell.

when Anton van Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope in the 17th 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 fluorescent protein, GFP, has functioned in the past decade as a guiding star for biochemists, biologists, medical scientists and other researchers.

This is where the third Nobel Prize laureate Roger Tsien makes his entry. His greatest contribution to the GFP revolution was that he extended the researchers’ palette with many new colours that glowed longer and with higher intensity.

To begin with, Tsien charted how the GFP chromophore is formed chemically in the 238-amino-acid-long GFP protein. Researchers had previously shown that three amino acids in position 65–67 react chemically with each other to form the chromosphore. Tsien showed that this chemical reaction requires oxygen and explained how it can happen without the help of other proteins.

With the aid of DNA technology, Tsien took the next step and exchanged various amino acids in different parts of GFP. This led to the protein both absorbing and emitting light in other parts of the spectrum. By experimenting with the amino acid composition, Tsien was able to develop new variants of GFP that shine more strongly and in quite different colours such as cyan, blue and yellow. That is how researchers today can mark different proteins in different colours to see their interactions.

Related: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008Nobel Laureate Initiates Symposia for Student ScientistsNobel Prize in Chemistry (2006)

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