About this Research Topic
No one could have foreseen the tremendous impact of fluorescent proteins in the biological sciences upon their discovery over fifty years ago. The use of fluorescent proteins has become a backbone of cell biology and continues to be a driving technology for cutting edge research in fields such as super-resolution microscopy and biosensors. The highly conserved structure of jellyfish green fluorescent protein has shown to amenably accommodate both human and natural engineering to tune physical, optical, and chemical properties. Other fluorescent proteins, such as phytochromes, provide promising alternative scaffolds for bioengineering.
Most fluorescent protein engineering efforts involve extensive random mutagenesis, whereby desired physical properties are selected without a prior knowledge of the underlying mechanism. For more thorough studies involving crystallography, spectroscopy, and/or computer modeling, mechanisms are sometimes revealed that are surprising and that could not be predicted before experimental mutagenesis. Insight into such mechanisms has the potential to illuminate broader questions in biophysical, quantum, and photochemistry.
The mechanisms underlying the fundamental properties of fluorescent proteins are still not well understood. Fluorescent proteins that are red-shifted, resistant to photobleaching, fast maturing, brighter, and blink predictably, are highly sought after. Physical phenomena such as solvent contributions, protein and chromophore dynamics, and proton transfer, pose challenging research questions. The engineering of fluorescent proteins as biosensors and incorporation of new chemistry, such as unnatural amino acids, are still in the early stages of research. Further advances will benefit from mechanistic studies.
This Research Topic will highlight recent developments in our understanding of physical and chemical mechanisms underlying complex and surprising properties of both natural and engineered fluorescent proteins. We welcome papers addressing this issue from both experimental and computational approaches. We especially seek papers that describe interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches that will appeal to a broad audience of researchers in the biological sciences.
Keywords: Fluorescent proteins, Fluorescence
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