An eel's glow could illuminate liver disease

Fluorescent protein binds to bilirubin, a compound the body must eliminate

By Rachel Ehrenberg, 13:46 PM June 13, 2013

An eel protein that shines green could enable a new test for liver problems and jaundice. The protein gets its glow on by connecting with the pigment bilirubin, scientists report in the June 20 Cell.

Led by bioimaging specialist Atsushi Miyawaki, scientists from the RIKEN research institute in Japan spent three years trying to figure out what switched on the protein’s glow in the species Anguilla japonica. Eventually, the scientists hit upon jaundice-causing bilirubin, a yellowish pigment that...

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