A group of scientists from University of Amsterdam (UVA) synthesized a new bright red fluorescent protein which would revolutionize the bio-tagging processes which enhance the stem cell and cancer research.
The molecular tag
There are certain compounds (usually proteins) used in genetic & molecular engineering, often called as fluorescent tags or bio-tags used to identify & observe the operations and functions of a particular target. These are often small colored compounds tagged along with proteins or cells of interest, which would allow scientists to track their movement and activities. In short, more vivid and choice of colors they use, more precise will be the outcome.
For the purpose, scientists use fluorescent proteins, which was first ever used in 1990. It was isolated from the fluorescent jellyfish and was green in color. Following the footsteps, more and more color codes and standards came after way. Yellow, blue, turquoise, pink etc. were used extensively, until the development of this bright red tag- the mScarlet.
The new bright, vivid and fluorescent red protein tag was developed by Prof. Dorus Gadella and colleagues from the department of molecular cytology. This protein tag has a potential to be used in latest cancer studies to understand how cellular disruption progresses in cancerous tissue. Their bright red color will be an added advantage, due to its high wavelength it can be easily detected using current machinery.
Molecule structure protein mScarlet . Credit: dr. Marten Postma, UvA
Scientists used the genetic blueprint from corals in order to construct mScarlet. They ran down the genetic codes and looked for those sequences that occurred consistently throughout the code. They gathered some essential pieces of codes and synthesized a DNA strand, which was later recombined into the bacterial genome to synthesize the bright red fluorescent protein.
The state of the art tracker
Like a GPS device, mScarlet will be a great protein tracker, with an added advantage of its bright red color. Before finalizing the code scientists did a scrutiny to edit the code after observing the mScarlet under a microscope. With a protein tag of this quality now it’s never easier than before to view cellular operations under a microscope. The best part of this protein tag is that they don’t hinder any function of the target protein or cell, thereby ensuring maximum efficacy.
Daphne S Bindels, Lindsay Haarbosch, Laura van Weeren, Marten Postma, Katrin E Wiese, Marieke Mastop, Sylvain Aumonier, Guillaume Gotthard, Antoine Royant, Mark A Hink, Theodorus W J Gadella. mScarlet: a bright monomeric red fluorescent protein for cellular imaging. Nature Methods, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.4074