<p>Figure 1</p>

When postdoctoral researcher Wendy Crookes and colleagues at the University of Hawaii-Manoa searched for membrane proteins that allow the immune system of the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, to recognize the bioluminescent symbiotic bacteria, Vibrio fischeri, the unexpected turned up. Instead of finding membrane proteins, Crookes says they found proteins with similar characteristics that form hundreds of stacks of reflective platelets in the squid's light organ reflector.1 These tiny platelets serve as mirrors, reflecting and intensifying light produced by Vibrio, which reside in specific areas of the squid's body. "Nobody knew what the proteins of the reflector were," she says.

The researchers suggest that such proteins eventually could be engineered for biosensors, molecular devices, and biomaterials, but others note that a long distance exists between elucidating protein sequences and making products. Biochemistry professor Irwin Chaiken of Drexel University in Philadelphia asks, "What is the...

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