William Ward


Research Interests:

Research:  Green fluroescent protein and applications of bioluminescence

 Our current research interests fall into two categories: 1) the elucidation of biochemical components in the bioluminescence of coelenterates and 2) the application of this knowledge in developing practical genetically-based assays for gene expression.

  1. We are currently completing the characterization of a bioluminescence energy transfer system involving a unique chromoprotein known as the green-fluorescent protein (Chalfie et al., 1994). Fluorescence involves a post-translationally modified tripeptide in the primary sequence of the protein (Cody et al., 1993). We have recently proposed an evolutionary relationship between the biosynthetic pathways of luciferin and GFP (Ward & McCapra, 1993).
  2. The GFP gene has been cloned and is expressed as an inheritable fluorescent cell marker in all species tested. (Chalfie et al., 1994). We now have reason to believe that luciferin is also genetically encoded. Thus, it may be possible to establish a nearly universal in vivo bioluminescence assay for gene promotion, induction and repression and to design a bioluminescent "Ames test" or "Rec-assay" based on the coelenterate bioluminescence system.

Selected Publications:

Green fluorescent protein as a marker for gene expression. Science. 1994, 263:802-805
Chalfie, M., Tu, Y., Euskirchen, G., Ward, W.W. and Prasher, D.C.

Chemical structure of the hexapeptide chromophore of the Aequorea green-fluorescent protein. Biochemistry. 1993, 32:1212-1218
Cody, C.W., Prasher, D.C., Westler, W.M., Prendergast, F.G. and Ward, W.W.

Primary structure of the Aequorea victoria green-fluorescent protein. Gene. 1992, 111:229-233
Prasher, D.C., Eckenrode, V.K., Ward, W.W., Prendergast, F.G. and Cormier, M.J.