Scientists created proteins controlled by light
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IMAGE: 3D model of the developed protein view more 

Credit: Aleksandr Mishin

Researchers developed fluorescent proteins that can be controlled by orange and green light. These proteins will help to study processes in living cells. The work was supported by Russian Science Foundation (RSF) grant, and the results were published in Nature Methods.

Fluorescent proteins emit intense visible light with wavelengths ranging from 390 to 700 nm. Natural functions of such proteins are rather diverse: for instance, some species of jellyfish use green fluorescent spots to attract various small organisms that serve as food. Optical properties of certain fluorescent proteins can be controlled with light. For instance, such proteins can be “turned on” or “turned off” therefore they are called switchable. Switchable fluorescent proteins are widely used in a new group of methods called super-resolution fluorescence microscopy (nanoscopy), which allow of extremely detailed intracellular structures imaging. Scientists usually use blue or violet irradiation for such microscopy, which is very toxic for cells as it disrupts their normal physiology and can even cause death.

“We were the first to create photoswitchable fluorescent proteins with optical properties that can be controlled using green and orange light, rather than blue-violet radiation. The

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