Archive for March, 2013

Allele Publishes mNeonGreen as the Brightest Monomeric Fluorescent Protein for Super-resolution Imaging


This week scientists from Allele Biotechnology and its partner non-profit research institute, the Scintillon Institute, present their latest fluorescent protein, mNeonGreen, in the journal Nature Methods (Nature Publishing Group). In the paper, entitled “A bright monomeric green fluorescent protein derived from Branchiostoma lanceolatum,” the scientists describe the development of the brightest monomeric fluorescent protein to date.

The scientific efforts to develop this novel fluorescent protein were led by Dr. Nathan Shaner, a leader in the field of fluorescent protein engineering. Fluorescent proteins are highly valuable research tools that allow the labeling and imaging of individual proteins within a living cell, and tracking of their movements and localization in real time through a microscope. However, since the discovery of the original green fluorescent protein in 1993, imaging technology has advanced rapidly beyond the capability of most fluorescent proteins. The newly described fluorescent protein, mNeonGreen, allows researchers to take full advantage of modern super-resolution optical microscopy techniques that enable visualization of structures in living and fixed cells at much smaller scales than are possible using traditional optical microscopy. This improvement will lead to countless new insights into human health and a greater understanding of protein interactions at very small distance scales within living cells. According to Dr. Jiwu Wang, the CEO of Allele Biotechnology, “Super-resolution imaging will become the standard for publication in a short period of time, and mNeonGreen allows researchers to meet this standard while still being compatible with the equipment and methods they already use.”

Prominent researchers within the fluorescent protein field are touting mNeonGreen as a replacement for jellyfish-derived Aequorea GFP, one of the most commonly used fluorescent proteins today. According to lead researcher Dr. Nathan Shaner, “mNeonGreen can be directly substituted for other green fluorescent proteins such as EGFP without the need for any equipment changes,” making the upgrade an attractive prospect for many researchers.

Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a San Diego-based biotechnology company specializing in the fields of RNAi, stem cells, viral expression, camelid antibodies and fluorescent proteins. The company has co-developed a number of fluorescent proteins and other products for PALM or STORM super-resolution imaging 3D-SIM, and STED imaging. With the arrival of mNeonGreen, Allele plans to collaborate with leading imaging labs, microscope manufacturers, and journals such as Nature Methods to further promote the advantages and capabilities of the latest imaging methods. Additionally, this announcement will coincide with the launch of a new super-resolution imaging web portal and plasmid depository via collaboration with the Scintillon Institute. The Scintillon Institute is a non-profit research institute established in 2012 using seed funding from Allele Biotech. The institute’s researchers are focused on the development of biological tools to improve human health and quality of life, including applications to cancer imaging, regenerative medicine, and sustainable energy and food production.

For details about Allele’s new Superresolution FP distribution method, read our departmental and institutional usage page.

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Monday, March 25th, 2013 Fluorescent proteins No Comments

Conducting Massively Parallel Sequencing

One of the major breakthroughs in modern biology is the development of massively parallel sequencing, also called next generation sequencing (NGS), which enabled the complete delineation of the human genome more than a decade ago. Since then many more species’ genomes have been sequenced, and the cost per genome has dropped from billions to mere thousands of dollars. New discoveries are being made as a result of the capability many research teams now possess to not only sequence chromosomal DNA, but also to identify which regions a protein of interest specifically binds (Chip-seq), analyze a whole transcriptome of a cell population under investigation (RNA-seq), or find out which RNA regions an RNA binding protein resides (CLIC-seq).

While it is inevitable that many PIs will seriously consider the inclusion of deep sequencing in their next grant proposal, it is not necessarily easy to take the first step and get their feet wet, so to speak. Knowing what format (e.g. 454 for longer reads, HighSeq for higher accuracy, or Ion Torren for bench top convenience) to use and how much to pay requires a vast amount of knowledge and experience. Even when you are done with sample prep, amplification and sequencing, to handle such massive amount of data is not trivial—transporting data alone can be a headache. A database server for storage and analysis requires another layer of expertise. There is no easy solution but to get started somehow. However, be prepared to deal with these issues.

Whether the cost on a type of next generation service is justifiable depends on whether it is required for your purposes. For example, when analyzing a person’s propensity of developing a disease by using known, disease-relevant genetic information, often times exome sequencing is sufficient. This costs anywhere between $1,000 to $3,000 with 100X coverage, significantly less than sequencing a complete genome which typically costs ~$5,000 at ~20x coverage.

High coverage sequencing of maternal blood DNA has been developed into clinically approved prenatal diagnosis of trisomy in Down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. Transcriptome analysis helped the understanding of how reprogramming works when iPSCs are. Looking forward, with more routine use of deep sequencing we can predict with much more certainty the “off-target” effects of RNAi or cellular toxicity of chromosomal modifications enabled by ZFN, TALEN, or CRISPR. As a matter of fact, we believe that transcriptome sequencing should be required after each RNAi event to prove a specific linkage between knockdown and functions; similarly, whole genome sequencing results need to be provided after making a site directed chromosomal change in the future for high level publications.

*This blog partially resulted from discussions between Jiwu Wang and his colleagues, who are NGS experts at UCSD’s Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Moore Cancer Center, and BGI Americas.

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