Osamu Shimomura Celebrated In Special Issue Of SPIE Journal

Professor Omura Shimomura isolated the green fluorescent protein from jellyfish, which revolutionized light microscopy and light-activated study.

AsianScientist (Nov. 11, 2015) – A special section on protein photonics in the Journal of Biomedical Optics celebrates the accomplishments and influence of Nobel Laureate Osamu Shimomura. His work in isolating green fluorescent protein (GFP) from jellyfish paved the way for numerous applications of fluorescent proteins in imaging of living tissue and in biological microscopy. The journal is published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Shimomura’s work provided inspiration for the idea of using light-protein interactions in fields such as optogenetics, where cell and animal activities are manipulated and imaged through the application of light on chemically treated brain cells.

Fluorescent proteins are used to tag proteins and structures in living cells and tissues, and to report on intracellular characteristics such as pH and temperature. In combination with other techniques, fluorescent proteins enable researchers to follow molecular-level activity in living cells.

In 1961, Shimomura and Frank Johnson, his mentor at Princeton University, extracted and purified luminescent protein material from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. They discovered that the protein, now known as GFP, absorbs blue light while emitting green when radiated with ultraviolet (UV) or blue light.

First cloned in 1994, GFP has enabled researchers to observe processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or the spread of cancer cells. By using GFP to tag specific proteins, scientists have studied how nerve cells are damaged by Alzheimer’s disease and how insulin-producing beta cells are created in the pancreas of a growing embryo.

Now Professor Emeritus at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole and Boston University Medical School, Shimomura shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2008 with Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien. Chalfie successfully introduced the gene for GFP into the DNA of other living organisms, allowing GFP to be used as a luminous genetic tag. Tsien determined how GFP’s structure produces green fluorescence, then tweaked the structure to produce molecules that emit light at slightly different wavelengths, creating tags of different colors.

Other articles in the special section detail some of the latest research in the field of protein photonics including a Brazilian click beetle-derived protein for dual-color imaging on live samples, methods to improve spatial resolution in deep regions and multicolor imaging through the concurrent excitation of multiple fluorescent proteins with green lasers.

The article can be found at: Fujita et al. (2015) Special Section Guest Editorial:Protein Photonics for Imaging, Sensing, and Manipulation: Honoring Prof. Osamu Shimomura, a Pioneer of Photonics for Biomedical Research.


Source: SPIE.
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