Improved green and blue fluorescent proteins for expression in bacteria and mammalian cells

Biochemistry. 2007 Mar 27;46(12):3775-83. doi: 10.1021/bi0622874. Epub 2007 Feb 27.


Fluorescent proteins have become an invaluable tool in cell biology. The green fluorescent protein variant EGFP is especially widely applied. Use of fluorescent proteins, including EGFP, however can be hindered by inefficient protein folding, resulting in protein aggregation and reduced fluorescence. This is especially profound in prokaryotic cells. Furthermore, EBFP, a blue fluorescent variant of EGFP, is rarely used because of its dim fluorescence and fast photobleaching. Thus, efforts to improve properties such as protein folding, fluorescence brightness, and photostability are important. Strongly enhanced green fluorescent (SGFP2) and strongly enhanced blue fluorescent (SBFP2) proteins were created, based on EGFP and EBFP, respectively. We used site-directed mutagenesis to introduce several mutations, which were recently shown to improve the fluorescent proteins EYFP and ECFP. SGFP2 and SBFP2 exhibit faster and more efficient protein folding and accelerated chromophore oxidation in vitro. For both strongly enhanced fluorescent proteins, the photostability was improved 2-fold and the quantum yield of SBFP2 was increased 3-fold. The improved folding efficiency reduced the extent of protein aggregation in Escherichia coli, thereby increasing the brightness of bacteria expressing SGFP2 7-fold compared to the brightness of those expressing EGFP. Bacteria expressing SBFP2 were 16-fold more fluorescent than those expressing EBFP. In mammalian cells, the improvements were less pronounced. Cells expressing SGFP2 were 1.7-fold brighter than those expressing EGFP, which was apparently due to more efficient protein expression and/or chromophore maturation. Mammalian cells expressing SBFP2 were 3.7-fold brighter than cells expressing EBFP. This increase in brightness closely resembled the increase in intrinsic brightness observed for the purified recombinant protein. The increased maturation efficiency and photostability of SGFP2 and SBFP2 facilitate detection and extend the maximum duration of fluorescence imaging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Escherichia coli* / cytology
  • Escherichia coli* / genetics
  • Escherichia coli* / metabolism
  • Fluorescence
  • Gene Expression*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Folding*


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF030489
  • GENBANK/EF030490
  • GENBANK/EF030491
  • GENBANK/EF030492
  • GENBANK/EF030493
  • GENBANK/EF030494
  • GENBANK/EF030495