Cell Structure and Function
Online ISSN : 1347-3700
Print ISSN : 0386-7196
ISSN-L : 0386-7196
Green Fluorescent Protein-like Proteins in Reef Anthozoa Animals
Atsushi Miyawaki
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2002 Volume 27 Issue 5 Pages 343-347


Green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the bioluminescent jellyfish Aequorea victoria has become an important tool in molecular and cellular biology as a transcriptional reporter, fusion tag, and biosensor. Most significantly, it encodes a chromophore intrinsically within its protein sequence, obviating the need for external substrates or cofactors and enabling the genetic encoding of strong fluorescence. Mutagenesis studies have generated GFP variants with new colors, improved fluorescence and other biochemical properties. In parallel, GFPs and GFP-like molecules have been cloned from other organisms, including the bioluminescent sea pansy Renilla reniformis and other non-bioluminescent Anthozoa animals. In the jellyfish and sea pansy, the GFPs are coupled to their chemoluminescence. Instead of emitting the blue light generated by aequorin and luciferase, the GFPs absorb their energy of primary emission and emit green light, which travels farther in the sea. In contrast, GFP-like proteins in reef Anthozoa are thought to play a role in photoprotection of their symbiotic zooxanthellae in shallow water; they transform absorbed UV radiation contained in sunlight into longer fluorescence wavelengths (Salih, A., Larkum, A., Cox, G., Kuhl, M., and Hoegh-Guldberg, O. 2000. Nature, 408: 850-853). In this review, I will describe both the biological and practical aspects of Anthozoan GFP-like proteins, many of which will be greatly improved in utility and commercially available before long. The ubiquity of these molecular tools makes it important to appreciate the interplay between sunlight and GFP-like proteins of Anthozoan animals, and to consider the optimal use of these unique proteins in biological studies.

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© 2002 by Japan Society for Cell Biology
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