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Spectral Diversity of Fluorescent Proteins from the Anthozoan Corynactis californica
Schnitzler, C.E.; Keenan, R.J.; McCord, R.; Matysik, A.; Christianson, L.M.; Haddock, S.H.D. (2008). Spectral Diversity of Fluorescent Proteins from the Anthozoan Corynactis californica. Mar. Biotechnol. 10(3): 328-342
In: Marine Biotechnology. Springer-Verlag: New York. ISSN 1436-2228, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Phenotypic variations; Pigments; Proteins; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Schnitzler, C.E.
  • Keenan, R.J.
  • McCord, R.
  • Matysik, A.
  • Christianson, L.M.
  • Haddock, S.H.D.

    Color morphs of the temperate, nonsymbiotic corallimorpharian Corynactis californica show variation in pigment pattern and coloring. We collected seven distinct color morphs of C. californica from subtidal locations in Monterey Bay, California, and found that tissue- and color-morph-specific expression of at least six different genes is responsible for this variation. Each morph contains at least three to four distinct genetic loci that code for these colors, and one morph contains at least five loci. These genes encode a subfamily of new GFP-like proteins, which fluoresce across the visible spectrum from green to red, while sharing between 75% to 89% pairwise amino-acid identity. Biophysical characterization reveals interesting spectral properties, including a bright yellow protein, an orange protein, and a red protein exhibiting a “fluorescent timer” phenotype. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that the FP genes from this species evolved together but that diversification of anthozoan fluorescent proteins has taken place outside of phylogenetic constraints, especially within the Corallimorpharia. The discovery of more examples of fluorescent proteins in a non-bioluminescent, nonsymbiotic anthozoan highlights possibilities of adaptive ecological significance unrelated to light regulation for algal symbionts. The patterns and colors of fluorescent proteins in C. californica and similar species may hold meaning for organisms that possess the visual pigments to distinguish them.

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