A Marriage Between the Jelly Fish and the Immune System


A new method, just published in the journal Nature, has been developed that could greatly speed the development of antibodies (Ab), molecules that can detect, locate, and quantify parts of cells for use in basic research and diagnostic medicine. Finding or making the Abs of interest for a specific task has never been easy since it often requires sorting through billions of different Ab to find the one of interest. Once a specific Ab tag is available a second molecule, known as a reporter, is needed to provide a detectable signal that tells scientists when the Ab bound to its target. One of the best reporters has been a molecule isolated from jelly fish, green flourescent protein (GFP), that fluoresces when an Ab finds its target. Now, Andrew Bradbury of the Los Alamos National Laboratory has devised a new molecule that combines parts of Ab molecules with GFP molecules, without disrupting its fluorescence, to give a more efficient tagging and reporting method. This new Ab-GFP molecule was inserted into a harmless bacterial virus and these Ab-GFP viruses produce billions of different fluorescently labeled Ab tags. Once a virus with the desired tag is identified it can be isolated and grown to produce unlimited amounts of the diagnostic tag. This new technology has important implications for diagnostic medicine and for basic research, including BER’s Genomics:GTL program with a goal to identify and characterize the multi protein molecular machines found inside cells.