Analytical biochemistry

An enhanced chimeric firefly luciferase-inspired enzyme for ATP detection and bioluminescence reporter and imaging applications.

PMID 26049097


Firefly luciferases, which emit visible light in a highly specific ATP-dependent process, have been adapted for a variety of applications, including gene reporter assays, whole-cell biosensor measurements, and in vivo imaging. We previously reported the approximately 2-fold enhanced activity and 1.4-fold greater bioluminescence quantum yield properties of a chimeric enzyme that contains the N-domain of Photinus pyralis luciferase joined to the C-domain of Luciola italica luciferase. Subsequently, we identified 5 amino acid changes based on L. italica that are the main determinants of the improved bioluminescence properties. Further engineering to enhance thermal and pH stability produced a novel luciferase called PLG2. We present here a systematic comparison of the spectral and physical properties of the new protein with P. pyralis luciferase and demonstrate the potential of PLG2 for use in assays based on the detection of femtomole levels of ATP. In addition, we compared the performance of a mammalian codon-optimized version of the cDNA for PLG2 with the luc2 gene in HEK293T cells. Using an optimized low-cost assay system, PLG2 activity can be monitored in mammalian cell lysates and living cells with 4.4-fold and approximately 3.0-fold greater sensitivity, respectively. PLG2 could be an improved alternative to Promega's luc2 for reporter and imaging applications.