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GFP of 2008 Nobel Prize winners is vital for LiU bioscience research

Green fluorescent protein, GFP, given public prominence through this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry, has become a popular tagging tool in bioscience laboratories.

One scientist who implements GFP is Jana Sponarova, biochemist at LiU, in her research on amyloid disease, a rare group of metabolic disorders in which the amyloid protein accumulates in body organs and tissues causing damage that is potentially fatal.

A transparent roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, common throughout the world in its natural habitat, is now increasingly common in the lab. Jana Sponarova, post-doctor in cell biology, introduced C. elegans into her research work on amyloid. As a laboratory animal, the roundworm is in many ways preferable to mice. Dr. Sponarova uses GFP as a genetic tag to study how a gene for amyloid structure expresses itself in the roundworm.

Amyloid is a misfolded protein—around 25 varieties have been identified to date—one which for some reason failed to fold as expected. Jana Sponarova has a research focus on Serum amyloid A (SAA), the precursor to amyloid A protein deposits in the liver, kidneys and spleen that give rise to harmful disorders. Systematic inflammation is a contributing factor. Especially vulnerable are those with rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis.


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Last updated: 2009-06-03