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Posts Tagged ‘Green fluorescent protein’


Heroes in Medical Research: Green Fluorescent Protein and the Rough Road in Science

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

In this series, “Heroes in Medical Research”, I like to discuss the people who made some important contributions to science and medicine which underlie the great transformative changes but don’t usually get the notoriety given to Nobel Laureates or who seem to fly under the radar of popular news. Their work may be the development of research tools which allowed a great discovery leading to a line of transformative research, a moment of serendipity leading to discovery of a cure, or just contributions to the development of a new field or the mentoring of a new generation of scientists and clinicians. One such discovery, which has probably been pivotal in many of our research, is the discovery of the green fluorescent protein (GFP), commonly used as an invaluable tool to monitor protein for cellular expression and localization studies. Although the development of research tools, whether imaging tools, vectors, animal models, cell lines, and such are not heralded, they always assist in the pivotal discoveries of our time. The following is a heartwarming story by Discover Magazine’s Yudhijit Bhattacharjee behind Dr. Douglas Prasher’s discovery of the green fluorescent protein, his successful efforts to sequence the gene and subsequent struggles in science and finally scientific recognition for his work. In addition the story describes Dr. Prather’s perseverance, a trait necessary for every scientist.

http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/30-how-bad-luck-networking-cost-prasher-nobel

 

The following is a wonderful entry into Wikipedia about Dr. Prasher at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Prasher

including a listing of his publications including the seminal Science and PNAS publications1,2.

 

prasher

 

 

(Photo: Dr. Prasher in the lab at UCSD. Photo credit UCSD and John Galstaldo)

 

 

 

In summary, Dr. Prather had been working at Wood’s Hole in Massachusetts trying to discover, isolate, then clone the protein which allowed a species of jellyfish living in the cold waters of the North Pacific, Aequorea victoria, to emit a green glow. Eventually he cloned the GFP gene, but gave up on work to express the gene in mammalian cells. Before leaving Wood’s Hole he gave the gene to Dr. Roger Tsien, who with Dr. Martin Chalfie and Osamu Shimomura showed the utility of GFP as an intracellular tracer to visualize, in real time, the expression and localization of GFP-tagged proteins (all three shared the 2008 Nobel Prize for this work). Dr. Tsien however realized the importance of Douglas’s cloning work as pivotal for their research, contacted Douglas (who now due to the bad economy was working at a Toyota dealership in Alabama) and invited him to the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Sweden as his guest. Although Dr. Prasher had “left academic science” he never really stopped his quest for a scientific career, using his spare time to review manuscripts.

Other researchers have invited their colleagues who made important contributions to the ultimate Nobel work. One such guest was one of my colleagues Dr. Leonard Cohen, who worked with Dr. Irwin Rose and Avram Hershko at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia a cell-free system from clams to discover the mechanism how cyclin B is degraded during the exit from the cell cycle (from A. Hershko’s Nobel speech). Dr. Hershko had acknowledged a slew of colleagues and highlighted their contributions to the ultimate work. It shows how even small discoveries can contribute to the sphere of scientific knowledge and breakthrough.

Luckily, in the end, perseverance has paid off as Dr. Prasher is now using his talents in Roger Tsien‘s group at the University of California in San Diego.

References:

1. Chalfie, M., Tu, Y., Euskirchen, G., Ward, W.W., Prasher, D.C., Green fluorescent protein as a marker for gene expression. Science, 263(5148), 802-805 (1994).

 

2. Heim, R., Prasher, D.C., Tsien, R.Y., Wavelength mutations and posttranslational autoxidation of green fluorescent protein. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 91(26), 12501-12504 (1994).

More posts on this site on Heroes in Medical Research series include:

Heroes in Medical Research: Developing Models for Cancer Research

Heroes in Medical Research: Dr. Carmine Paul Bianchi Pharmacologist, Leader, and Mentor

Heroes in Medical Research: Dr. Robert Ting, Ph.D. and Retrovirus in AIDS and Cancer

Heroes in Medical Research: Barnett Rosenberg and the Discovery of Cisplatin

 

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Cardiac Ca2+ Signaling: Transcriptional Control

Reporter: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

The other side of cardiac Ca2+ signaling: transcriptional control

A Domínguez-Rodríguez, G Ruiz-Hurtado, Jean-Pierre Benitah and AM Gómez

  • Ca2+ is not only a key element in excitation-contraction coupling (EC coupling), but
  • it is also a pivotal second messenger in cardiac signal transduction,
  • being able to control processes such as
    • excitability,
    • metabolism, and
    • transcriptional regulation.

Front. Physio. 2012; 3:452.                 http://dx.doi.org/fphys.2012.00452/
http://www.fphys.com/The other side of cardiac Ca2+ signaling: transcriptional control

calcium release calmodulin

calcium release calmodulin

English: A rendition of the CaMKII holoenzyme ...

English: A rendition of the CaMKII holoenzyme in the (A) Closed and the (B) Open conformation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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