Green fluorescent antibodies: novel in vitro tools Academic Article uri icon


  • We produced a fluorescent antibody as a single recombinant protein in Escherichia coli by fusing a red-shifted mutant of green fluorescent protein (EGFP) to a single-chain antibody variable fragment (scFv) specific for hepatitis B surface antigen (HepBsAg). GFP is a cytoplasmic protein and it was not previously known whether it would fold correctly to form a fluorescent protein in the periplasmic space of E.COLI: In this study we showed that EGFP alone or fused to the N'- and C'-termini of the scFv resulted in fusion proteins that were in fact highly fluorescent in the periplasmic space of E.COLI: cells. Further characterization revealed that the periplasmic N'-terminal EGFP-scFv fusion was the most stable form which retained the fluorescent properties of EGFP and the antigen binding properties of the native scFv; thus representing a fully functional chimeric molecule. We also demonstrated the utility of EGFP-scFv in immunofluorescence studies. The results showed positive staining of COS-7 cells transfected with HepBsAg, with comparable sensitivity to a monoclonal antibody or the scFv alone, probed with conventional fluorescein-labelled second antibodies. In this study, we developed a simple technique to produce fluorescent antibodies which can potentially be applied to any scFv. We demonstrated the utility of an EGFP-scFv fusion protein for immunofluorescence studies, but there are many biological systems to which this technology may be applied.

publication date

  • June 2000