GLOFISH - Science Centre Singapore

Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
A. Template for Science Centre PBL Gallery Pathway Program
Title of Problem: Green Florescent Protein
Duration of Problem: 1 hour
1. Outcomes
At the end of the program students should be able to:
state that gene is a sequence of nucleotides, as part of a DNA
b) explain that genes may be transferred between cells. Reference
should be made to the transfer of genes between organisms between
different species – transgenic plants or animals
c) discuss the process of social and ethical implications of genetic
engineering, with reference to a named example.
d) understand the difference between bioflorescence and
2. Profile of Students
Course of Study: General Science / Biology
Year of Study: Sec 3 – 5/ JC 1 - 2
Number of Students: 2 - 4 students per group
Comments on Learning Abilities:
Experience in APBL: None/Novice/Experienced
3. Prior Knowledge & Skills
Basic biology knowledge
Page 1 of 7
Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
4. Problem Format
Yahoo! Answer (Open question titled “GFP”, posted by MileyFan)
I’d just come back from the aquarium today, and was overwhelmed with the sights of numerous fishes, including the agile
sword-tails, the fierce angel-fishes and the graceful koi. However, I was most impressed with a particular zebrafish that gives
an eerie green-glow when black light was shone onto them. The owner of the aquarium told me that they are called Glofish,
and is a product of scientific innovation. I was so intrigued by their amazing appearances that I spent the remainder of the
afternoon marveling the wonders of the science.
Being very curious about Glofish, I went online to look up about these interesting fishes. However, the information given on
the websites are just too complicated. Scientists went on length about getting GFP gene and inserting them into a variety of
animals. In the case of Glofish, the GFP gene is apparently inserted into the zebrafishes. However, I have no idea how this
process works. I’m just so confuse right now. I do hope any wise soul could provide me with detailed yet easy-to-understand
information about this process of insertion.
Come to think of it, are these Glofish found in nature? What would happen if Glofish or any other modified organisms get into
Page 2 of 7
Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
5. Pilot-Test Problem
Learning Issues
Resources Needed
1a. Do zebrafishes naturally give a
green glow under UV light?
- Definition
- Difference between bioflorescence
and bioillumination
Exhibit Panel
Genome – Glow Orchid
Marine Alcove – Coral Reef
Tank/ panel on Bioflorescence
Web of Life – Flash-light fish
1d. Why are these zebrafishes
called “Glofish”?
- Scientific innovation trademarked for
business purposes
Internet resources
2a. What did scientists do to form
Scientific Innovation
- Examples of scientific innovation
- Living organisms as scientific
Internet resources
MileyFan visited an aquarium and
was impressed by a zebrafish, called
Glofish, which gives off an eerie
green glow when shone with black
1b. Why do Glofish give a green
glow under UV illumination?
1c. Will the Glofish glow even
without UV illumination?
According to the aquarium owner,
the Glofish is a product of scientific
2b. How is Glofish a scientific
Page 3 of 7
Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
Learning Issues
Resources Needed
3a. What is GFP gene?
Green-Fluorescent Protein (GFP) gene
- Definition
- method of inserting GFP gene
- uses of GFP as an indicator for gene
Exhibit Panel
DNA Corridor – Green Gene.
Genome – Making GMO
Genes and Proteins
- Definition
- Relation between genes and DNA;
DNA and RNA; RNA and proteins
(central dogma)
- Principles of transcription and
- Diversity of proteins
Exhibit Panel
Genome – DNA structure
DNA Corridor – Traits
Genome – Genes
Genome – Transcription
Genome - Translation
DNA Corridor – Protein diversity
Environmental Impact of Trangenic
- Concerns of modified organisms in
natural environment
Exhibit Panel
Genome – GMO in environment
Genome – Feedback booths
MileyFan surfed the internet sites
and was overwhelmed with
information available of Glofish.
Scientists explained how GFP
gene are acquired and inserted
into variety of animal.
Glofish is apparently formed
when GFP gene is inserted into
3b. How is GFP gene related with the
ability for the Glofish to glow under
UV illumination?
3c. Where do scientists acquire GFP
3d. How is GFP gene inserted into
3e. What other animals have scientist
inserted GFP gene into?
MileyFan sought for easy-tounderstand information of how
GFP gene is inserted into the
zebrafishes to form the Glofish.
3d. Why would scientists want to
make a variety of animals glow under
UV illumination?
MileyFan is concerned with what
will happen when Glofish or
other modified organisms get into
the natural environment.
4a. How would Glofish affect the
natural environment?
4b. What concerns will come into
organisms get into naure?
Enrichment Lesson
How do animals, such as Glofish,
get modified?
What impact would these modified
organisms have on the natural
Page 4 of 7
Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
Information Sheet for Teachers
Yahoo! Answers
“With more than 21 million unique users in the U.S. and 90 million worldwide, Yahoo! Answers is
the largest knowledge-sharing community on the Web. It’s an online community where anyone can
ask and answer questions on any topic. Yahoo! Answers connects people to the information they’re
seeking with those who knows.”
Biofluorescence refer to the ability for an organism to reflect the UV illumination into green glow.
Aequorin (the photoprotein) in conjuction with coelenterazine (the luciferin) produces light with a
wavelength around 470nm (bluish). The energy from this light is immediately captured by the GFP
and is reradiated as green light (504nm).
Difference between Biofluorescence and Bioluminescence:
- Bioluminescence refer to the ability of living organisms, such as firefly, various fish, fungi and
bacteria in emitting visible light
A trademark is a distinctive sign that is used by an organization to uniquely identify the source of
its products to consumers. It denotes for a specific intellectual property.
Page 5 of 7
Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
Scientific Innovation
Innovation is defined as the act of introducing something new.
Genetically modified organism is one of such scientific innovation. In genetic field, a number of
organisms are modified so that they display some new traits. Examples of trademarked scientific
innovations include:
- Glofish
- Golden Rice
Green Florescent Protein (GFP)
The green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene is the section of DNA that encodes for GFP.
GFP is a protein, comprised of 238 amino acids, originally isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea
victoria that floresces green when exposed to blue light.
In cell and molecular biology, the GFP gene is frequently used as a reporter of expression. In other
words, GFP gene is used as a biosensor to indicate if a gene can be expressed throughout a given
organism. The GFP gene can be introduced into organisms and maintained in their genome through
breeding, or local injection with a viral vector. To date, many bacteria, fungi, plant, fly and
mammalian cells have been created using GFP as a marker.
Tsien R. (1978) “The Green Fluorescent Protein” Annual Review of Biochemistry 67: 509 – 44.
Genes and Proteins
A gene consists of a long strand of DNA on a locatable region of genomic sequence within an
organism. Genes are instructions for the cells, which direct the production of proteins within an
Proteins are the materials that make all living things function. In our bodies, there are thousands of
different proteins, including haemoglobin and melanin.
Page 6 of 7
Gallery Pathway – Life Science – Green Florescent Protein
The process in which genes make the protein is called translation.
The knowledge about genes and proteins is enormous, and it is not possible to cover this topic
exhaustively. References online are copious and could be quite confusing as well. As a suggestion,
a good place to start will be at Genetic Science Learning Centre (
The following are resources from easy-to-access GSLC resources:
Environmental Impact of
Transgenic Organisms
Transgenic organisms or genetically modified organisms, are organisms whose genetic material has
been altered using the genetic engineering techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA
Some critics have raised concern that conventionally bred crop plants can be cross-pollinated (bred)
from the pollen of modified plants.
Concerns have also been raised that genetic modified organism may contribute to genetic pollution
because artificially created and genetically engineered plants and animals in laboratories, which
could never have evolved in nature even with convention hybridization, can interbreed with
naturally evolved and wild varieties.
Page 7 of 7