Soluble, highly fluorescent variants of green fluorescent protein (GFP) for use in higher plants

Plant Mol Biol. 1998 Mar;36(4):521-8. doi: 10.1023/a:1005991617182.


Green fluorescent protein (GFP) from Aequorea victoria has rapidly become a standard reporter in many biological systems. However, the use of GFP in higher plants has been limited by aberrant splicing of the corresponding mRNA and by protein insolubility. It has been shown that GFP can be expressed in Arabidopsis thaliana after altering the codon usage in the region that is incorrectly spliced, but the fluorescence signal is weak, possibly due to aggregation of the encoded protein. Through site-directed mutagenesis, we have generated a more soluble version of the codon-modified GFP called soluble-modified GFP (smGFP). The excitation and emission spectra for this protein are nearly identical to wild-type GFP. When introduced into A. thaliana, greater fluorescence was observed compared to the codon-modified GFP, implying that smGFP is 'brighter' because more of it is present in a soluble and functional form. Using the smGFP template, two spectral variants were created, a soluble-modified red-shifted GFP (smRS-GFP) and a soluble-modified blue-fluorescent protein (smBFP). The increased fluorescence output of smGFP will further the use of this reporter in higher plants. In addition, the distinct spectral characters of smRS-GFP and smBFP should allow for dual monitoring of gene expression, protein localization, and detection of in vivo protein-protein interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Fluorescence
  • Genes, Reporter*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics*
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Recombinant Proteins / analysis
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Solubility


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U70495
  • GENBANK/U70496
  • GENBANK/U70497