Firefly Extracts for Bioluminescence

Yellow light flashes on a firefly’s abdomen when the enzyme luciferase catalyzes the energy-requiring oxidation of the bioluminescent substrate luciferin. The equilibrium constant of the total reaction is far to the right, and thus nearly irreversible. Crude extracts of firefly lanterns contain both enzyme and substrate, and can be an inexpensive tool to assay ATP, the energy source. However, the concentration of luciferin in these extracts is limited and may affect enzyme kinetics. For best sensitivity, firefly tail extracts should be supplemented with added D-luciferin. Then, under optimal conditions, the assay can measure as little as 10-15 moles of ATP.

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FLE250 Firefly Lantern Extract for ATP determination