Green fluorescent protein (GFP) is a protein that exhibits fluorescence under ultraviolet (UV) light, radiating a bright green colour. The protein was discovered in a jellyfish of the North Pacific Ocean, Aequorea victoria, in the 1960's, and the gene first cloned in 1994. It, and many other GFPs found in coral and other marine organisms, are now used worldwide as a bioindicators for gene cloning and expression experiments. The gene for GFP is linked to other genes of interest to determine if they are expressed in transgenic organisms, or the gene is controlled by the promoter region of other genes to study mechanisms controlling their transcription. GFP expression also allows tracking of cells within an organism, and are used to study cancer cell growth and metastasis.
The discoverers of the original GFP, Martin Chalfie of Columbia University in New York, Roger Tsien from the University of California, San Diego and Osamu Shimomura from the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, Massachusetts, were awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2008.