Proteins are natural biomolecules applicable in research on life science, biotechnology and medicine. The team led by Professor Arne Skerra from the TUM department of bio-chemistry has extended the genetic code to stress bacterial cells to emit customized proteins with artificial functions.
The team tried to integrate a synthetic amino acid at a particular location into a natural protein. The researchers published their report in the international “Journal of the American Chemical Society”.
The protein called GFP (green fluorescent protein) transmits a green light and comes from a jellyfish. The jelly fish deploys the protein to reveal itself in the darkness of the ocean. The team chose coumarin pigment colored pale lavender as the side series of an artificial amino acid. The artificial amino acid was fed to a culture of Escherichia coli bacteria created in the laboratory. The cultures are the microorganism workers of genetic engineering, one strain of which exists in the human intestine. The team moved the altered GFP to the bacteria to include the coumarin amino acid at a particular spot in the fluorescent protein.
This FRET effect was used in the new protein. The distance from the imported pigment to the biological cyan pigment was measured to allow the communication between the two pigments. The closeness of the two luminous groups caused the pale lavender to go undetected. The blue-green fluorescent protein was clearly visible.
Skerra says that the principle of the bio-molecule, revealed by a large difference in wavelength between derivation and transmitted light, will allow its use in many applications. The findings will help development of specific fluorescent proteins in different colors for multiple requirements. The project was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and formed part of the Munich Center for Integrated Protein Science (CIPS-M).