, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 733-746
Date: 23 Oct 2007

Dynamic Regulation of Fluorescent Proteins from a Single Species of Coral

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To gain a better understanding of the natural function of fluorescent proteins, we have undertaken quantitative analyses of these proteins in a single species of coral, Montastraea cavernosa, residing around Turneffe atoll, on the Belizean Barrier Reef. We identified at least 10 members of a fluorescent protein family in this species, which consist of 4 distinct spectral classes. As much as a 10-fold change in the overall expression of fluorescent proteins was observed from specimen to specimen, suggesting that fluorescent proteins are dynamically regulated in response to environmental or physiological conditions. We found that the expression of some proteins was inversely correlated with depth, and that groups of proteins were coordinately expressed. There was no relationship between the expression of fluorescent proteins and the natural coloration of the Montastraea cavernosa specimens in this study. These findings have implications for current hypotheses regarding the properties and natural function of fluorescent proteins.