Glowing Japanese Eels and UnaG

Even though the original paper is not Open Access, this is still some awesome research.

• A green fluorescent protein has been identified and isolated for the first time in a vertebrate. This protein was found in the muscles of the Japanese Eel, and has been wittily named UnaG, after the Japanese word for eel, unagi.

• UnaG fluorescence is induced by binding to bilirubin, which is a breakdown product of normal heme metabolism, which is the iron binding component of hemoglobin in red blood cells.

• Since bilirubin levels are a good indicator of liver function, UnaG can have excellent uses in medical diagnosis. To that end, the researchers used UnaG’s high affinity, high specificity interaction to establish a fluorescence-based human bilirubin assay with “promising clinical utility”. This has vast potential for applications in research, medicine and bioengineering.

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