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Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) Assay for Determination of Molecular Interactions in Living Cells.

The bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) assay can be used as an indicator of molecular approximation and/or interaction. A significant resonance energy transfer signal is generated when the acceptor, having the appropriate spectral overlap with the donor emission, is approximated with the donor. In the example provided, proteins tagged with bioluminescentluciferase (Rlu) as donor and yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) as acceptor were co-expressed in cells. This pair of donor and acceptor have an approximate Förster distance of 4.4 nm, providing the optimal working distance (Dacres., 2010). This technique can be used to explore the time-course of specific molecular interactions that occur in living cells.

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Bioluminescence and kinetic aspects of double mutated aequorin variants.

Aequorin as an old small calcium-sensitive photoprotein is a blue fluorescence protein which converts coelenterazine (a substrate) to coelenteramide with a flash type emission. The decay kinetics and emission properties of this protein can be changed using directed mutagenesis of crucial amino acid residue. In this work, we prepared three double mutants: YF/WF, YF/DG, and WF/DG. According to our results, it seems that presence of YF mutation results in shift of emission to longer wavelengths while the WF mutation shifts the emission to shorter wavelengths. Furthermore, comparison of the variants for light half-life indicated decreased tfor the two variants of YF/DG and WF/DG. But in compared to wild type aequorin, the YF/WF variant displayed a 2-fold increase of light half-life. On the other hand, the thermostability properties of double mutants confirmed that only YF/DG variant of apoaequorin is higher stability than others. Also, the single WF mutant reached the highest stability against thermal shock. Our data suggest that replacement of single or few point mutations in the binding pocket or active site of aequorin affects its bioluminescence and kinetic properties and so could be used for new reporter production of this photoprotein with the feasibility and limited substitutions.

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Expression and characterization of the Renilla luciferase with the cumulative mutation.

Luciferase from Renilla reniformis (RLuc) is a good research tool as a reporter protein and bioimaging probes, yielding blue light using the substrate coelenterazine. However, the applications are limited since RLuc is unstable under various conditions. Therefore, an attempt was made to increase RLuc thermostability. In this study, 5 mutations reported previously [1] and one mutation obtained using site-directed mutagenesis were combined. As a result of this combination, the thermostability effect increased, with the mutant showing approximately 10 °C higher stability. Furthermore, the mutant simultaneously improved a tolerance for protease digestion, e.g. trypsin and proteinase K, and for organic solvent. Residual activity of the mutant after treatment with 10% 2-propanol, 10% DMF and 20% DMSO at 35 °C for 1 h was 29.4, 24.8 and 91.3%, respectively, whereas that of the wild type was 0.4, 0.1 and 24.3%, respectively.

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Secreted dual reporter assay with Gaussia luciferase and the red fluorescent protein mCherry.

The availability of a wide range of reporter proteins, which can easily be quantitated, has had a major impact on many fields of biomedical research. In some experiments with tissue culture cells, it is necessary to control for differences in transfection efficiency and in other expression parameters. This requirement has been very conveniently met with the popular dual luciferase assay. Its disadvantages are the requirement for cell lysis, the inability to analyze the same cells repeatedly, and the cost, at least in its most commonly used commercial format. Here we describe a novel dual reporter assay with the naturally secreted luciferase from Gaussia princeps as the main reporter protein and a secreted version of the red fluorescent protein mCherry as internal standard. After first measuring mCherry fluorescence in the medium, an enzyme buffer with coelenterazine as substrate is added to the same sample to trigger a glow-type luminescence of the luciferase. The simple and cheap assay can easily be adapted to a variety of experimental situations. As a case in point, we have developed a panel of Gaussia luciferase reporter genes for transcriptional activation assays with estrogen and glucocorticoid response elements, and with response elements for fusion proteins with the Gal4 DNA binding domain for use in mammalian cells. Our secreted dual reporter assay should be an attractive alternative to the currently available commercial kits.

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A coelenterazine-type bioluminescent probe for nitroreductase imaging.

Novel coelenterazine-type bioluminescent probes have been designed and synthesized to detect nitroreductase (NTR) in hypoxic tumors. The design strategy is that NTR catalyzes the reduction of the nitrobenzyl moiety to the aniline group with an electron donor, thus resulting in 1,4 or 1,6-rearrangement-elimination to release coelenterazine analogues, which can be catalyzed by Renilla luciferase to emit bioluminescence. After careful evaluation, almost all probes had a 3-fold greater response for NTR over other biologically relevant substances at >100-fold dose more than NTR. In the dose-independent and selectivity study, probes A1, A2 and A5 presented a high selectivity in a dose-dependent manner. Overall, among all molecules, probe A5 showed high sensitivity, low cytotoxicity and good compatibility, so as to be successfully applied for assessing the hypoxic status in cellulo and in vivo as the first coelenterazine-type bioluminescent probe.

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Bioluminescence Monitoring of Neuronal Activity in Freely Moving Zebrafish Larvae.

The proof of concept for bioluminescence monitoring of neural activity in zebrafish with the genetically encoded calcium indicatorhas been previously described (Naumann., 2010) but challenges remain. First, bioluminescence signals originating from a single muscle fiber can constitute a major pitfall. Second, bioluminescence signals emanating from neurons only are very small. To improve signals while verifying specificity, we provide an optimized 4 steps protocol achieving: 1) selective expression of a zebrafish codon-optimized, 2) efficient soaking of larvae insubstrate coelenterazine, 3) bioluminescence monitoring of neural activity from motor neurons in free-tailed moving animals performing acoustic escapes and 4) verification of the absence of muscle expression using immunohistochemistry.

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Coelenterazine analogues emit red-shifted bioluminescence with NanoLuc.

We report the synthesis and characterization of novel coelenterazine analogues that demonstrate a red-shift in their bioluminescent emission with NanoLuc luciferase. These coelenterazines can be tuned to shift the bioluminescent emission from blue light in the native system. In particular, direct attachment of an aryl moiety to the imidazopyrazinone core of furimazine at the C8 position provides a significant red-shift while maintaining reasonable light output. In addition, modification of the C6 aryl moiety provided additive red-shifts, and by combining the most promising modifications we report a coelenterazine with a maximum emission near 600 nm with NanoLuc. Finally, we show that this new bioluminescent system is capable of efficient BRET to far-red fluorophores. We anticipate these new principles of NanoLuc substrate design will impact applications that depend on shifting the colour of emission to the red, most notably in vivo bioluminescent imaging.

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Single-step purification of recombinant Gaussia luciferase from serum-containing culture medium of mammalian cells.

A dihydrofolate reductase-deficient Chinese hamster ovary (CHO-K1/dhfr) cell line stably expressing Gaussia luciferase with a histidine-tag sequence at the carboxyl terminus (GLase-His) was established. Recombinant GLase-His was purified from serum-containing culture medium by single-step Ni-chelate column chromatography in the presence of 2 M NaCl and 0.01% Tween 20. The protein yield of GLase-His with over 95% purity was 0.5 mg from 0.9 L of the cultured medium. The enzymatic properties of purified GLase-His were characterized. Interestingly, non-ionic detergent Tween 20 stabilized and stimulated GLase-His activity and its luminescence activity was stimulated 2-fold by the synergistic effect of 0.01% Tween 20 and 150 mM NaCl.

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Red-shifted luciferase-luciferin pairs for enhanced bioluminescence imaging.

Red-shifted bioluminescence reporters are desirable for biological imaging. We describe the development of red-shifted luciferins based on synthetic coelenterazine analogs and corresponding mutants of NanoLuc that enable bright bioluminescence. One pair in particular showed superior in vitro and in vivo sensitivity over commonly used bioluminescence reporters. We adapted this pair to develop a bioluminescence resonance-energy-based Antares reporter called Antares2, which offers improved signal from deep tissues.

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The disulfide-rich Metridia luciferase refolded from E. coli inclusion bodies reveals the properties of a native folded enzyme produced in insect cells.

The bioluminescence of a marine copepod Metridia longa is determined by a small secreted coelenterazine-dependent luciferase that uses coelenterazine as a substrate of enzymatic reaction to generate light (λ=480nm). To date, four different isoforms of the luciferase differing in size, sequences, and properties have been cloned by functional screening. All of them contain ten conserved Cys residues that suggests up to five SS intramolecular bonds per luciferase molecule. Whereas the use of copepod luciferases as bioluminescent reporters in biomedical research in vivo is growing from year to year, their application for in vitro assays is still limited by the difficulty in obtaining significant amounts of luciferase. The most cost-effective host for producing recombinant proteins is Escherichia coli. However, prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells maintain the reductive environment in cytoplasm that hinders the disulfide bond formation and consequently the proper folding of luciferase. Here we report the expression of the MLuc7 isoform of M. longa luciferase in E. coli cells and the efficient procedure for refolding from inclusion bodies yielding a high-active monomeric protein. Furthermore, in a set of identical experiments we demonstrate that bioluminescent and structural features of MLuc7 produced in bacterial cells are identical to those of MLuc7 isoform produced from culture medium of insect cells. Although the yield of high-purity protein is only 6mg/L, the application of E. coli cells to produce the luciferase is simpler and more cost-effective than the use of insect cells. We expect that the suggested technology of Metridia luciferase production allows obtaining of sufficient amounts of protein both for the development of novel in vitro analytical assays with the use of MLuc7 as a label and for structural studies.

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