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Methods. 2000 Jan;20(1):62-72.

Green fluorescent protein as a reporter for macromolecular localization in bacterial cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Medical School, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is a highly useful fluorescent tag for studying the localization, structure, and dynamics of macromolecules in living cells, and has quickly become a primary tool for analysis of DNA and protein localization in prokaryotes. Several properties of GFP make it an attractive and versatile reporter. It is fluorescent and soluble in a wide variety of species, can be monitored noninvasively by external illumination, and needs no external substrates. Localization of GFP fusion proteins can be analyzed in live bacteria, therefore eliminating potential fixation artifacts and enabling real-time monitoring of dynamics in situ. Such real-time studies have been facilitated by brighter, more soluble GFP variants. In addition, red-shifted GFPs that can be excited by blue light have lessened the problem of UV-induced toxicity and photobleaching. The self-contained domain structure of GFP reduces the chance of major perturbations to GFP fluorescence by fused proteins and, conversely, to the activities of the proteins to which it is fused. As a result, many proteins fused to GFP retain their activities. The stability of GFP also allows detection of its fluorescence in vitro during protein purification and in cells fixed for indirect immunofluorescence and other staining protocols. Finally, the different properties of GFP variants have given rise to several technological innovations in the study of cellular physiology that should prove useful for studies in live bacteria. These include fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) for studying protein-protein interactions and specially engineered GFP constructs for direct determination of cellular ion fluxes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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