The transcriptome of the Bermuda fireworm Odontosyllis enopla (Annelida: Syllidae): A unique luciferase gene family and putative epitoky-related genes.
ABSTRACT: The Bermuda fireworm Odontosyllis enopla exhibits an extremely tight circalunar circadian behavior that results in an impressive bioluminescent mating swarm, thought to be due to a conventional luciferase-mediated oxidation of a light-emitting luciferin. In addition, the four eyes become hypertrophied and heavily pigmented, and the nephridial system is modified to store and release gametes and associated secretions. In an effort to elucidate transcripts related to bioluminescence, circadian or circalunar periodicity, as well as epitoky-related changes of the eyes and nephridial system, we examined the transcriptomic profile of three female O. enopla during a bioluminescent swarm in Ferry Reach, Bermuda. Using the well-characterized luciferase gene of the Japanese syllid Odontosyllis undecimdonta as a reference, a complete best-matching luciferase open reading frame (329 amino acids in length) was found in all three individuals analyzed in addition to numerous other paralogous sequences in this new gene family. No photoproteins were detected. We also recovered a predicted homolog of 4-coumarate-CoA ligase (268 amino acids in length) that best matched luciferase of the firefly Luciola with the best predicted template being the crystal structure of luciferase for Photinus pyralis, the common eastern firefly. A wide variety of genes associated with periodicity were recovered including predicted homologs of clock, bmal1, period, and timeless. Several genes corresponding to putative epitoky-related changes of the eyes were recovered including predicted homologs of a phototransduction gene, a retinol dehydrogenase and carotenoid isomerooxygenase as well as a visual perception related retinal rod rhodopsin-sensitive cGMP 3',5'-cyclic phosphodiesterase. Genes correlating to putative epitoky-related changes of the nephridia included predicted homologs of nephrocystin-3 and an egg-release sex peptide receptor.
Project description:The New Zealand glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is well-known for displays of blue-green bioluminescence, but details of its bioluminescent chemistry have been elusive. The glowworm is evolutionarily distant from other bioluminescent creatures studied in detail, including the firefly. We have isolated and characterised the molecular components of the glowworm luciferase-luciferin system using chromatography, mass spectrometry and 1H NMR spectroscopy. The purified luciferase enzyme is in the same protein family as firefly luciferase (31% sequence identity). However, the luciferin substrate of this enzyme is produced from xanthurenic acid and tyrosine, and is entirely different to that of the firefly and known luciferins of other glowing creatures. A candidate luciferin structure is proposed, which needs to be confirmed by chemical synthesis and bioluminescence assays. These findings show that luciferases can evolve independently from the same family of enzymes to produce light using structurally different luciferins.
Project description:The color of firefly bioluminescence is determined by the structure of luciferase. Firefly luciferase genes have been isolated from more than 30 species, producing light ranging in color from green to orange-yellow. Here, we reconstructed seven ancestral firefly luciferase genes, characterized the enzymatic properties of the recombinant proteins, and determined the crystal structures of the gene from ancestral Lampyridae. Results showed that the synthetic luciferase for the last common firefly ancestor exhibited green light caused by a spatial constraint on the luciferin molecule in enzyme, while fatty acyl-CoA synthetic activity, an original function of firefly luciferase, was diminished in exchange. All known firefly species are bioluminescent in the larvae, with a common ancestor arising approximately 100 million years ago. Combined, our findings propose that, within the mid-Cretaceous forest, the common ancestor of fireflies evolved green light luciferase via trade-off of the original function, which was likely aposematic warning display against nocturnal predation.
Project description:To enhance the efficiency of firefly luciferase/luciferin bioluminescence imaging, a series of N-cycloalkylaminoluciferins (cyaLucs) were developed by introducing lipophilic N-cycloalkylated substitutions. The experimental results demonstrate that these cyaLucs are effective substrates for native firefly luciferase (Fluc) and can produce elevated bioluminescent signals in vitro, in cellulo, and in vivo. It should be noted that, in animal studies, N-cyclobutylaminoluciferin (cybLuc) at 10 ?M (0.1 mL), which is 0.01% of the standard dose of d-luciferin (dLuc) used in mouse imaging, can radiate 20-fold more bioluminescent light than d-luciferin (dLuc) or aminoluciferin (aLuc) at the same concentration. Longer in vivo emission imaging using cybLuc suggests that it can be used for long-time observation. Regarding the mechanism of cybLuc, our cocrystal structure data from firefly luciferase with oxidized cybLuc suggested that oxidized cybLuc fits into the same pocket as oxyluciferin. Most interestingly, our results demonstrate that the sensitivity of cybLuc in brain tumor imaging contributes to its extended application in deep tissues.
Project description:Firefly luciferase is homologous to fatty acyl-CoA synthetases. We hypothesized that the firefly luciferase substrate d-luciferin and its analogs are fatty acid mimics that are ideally suited to probe the chemistry of enzymes that release fatty acid products. Here, we synthesized luciferin amides and found that these molecules are hydrolyzed to substrates for firefly luciferase by the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). In the presence of luciferase, these molecules enable highly sensitive and selective bioluminescent detection of FAAH activity in vitro, in live cells, and in vivo. The potency and tissue distribution of FAAH inhibitors can be imaged in live mice, and luciferin amides serve as exemplary reagents for greatly improved bioluminescence imaging in FAAH-expressing tissues such as the brain.
Project description:Firefly luciferase adenylates and oxidizes d-luciferin to chemically generate visible light and is widely used for biological assays and imaging. Here we show that both luciferase and luciferin can be reengineered to extend the scope of this light-emitting reaction. D-Luciferin can be replaced by synthetic luciferin analogues that increase near-infrared photon flux >10-fold over that of D-luciferin in live luciferase-expressing cells. Firefly luciferase can be mutated to accept and utilize rigid aminoluciferins with high activity in both live and lysed cells yet exhibit 10,000-fold selectivity over the natural luciferase substrate. These new luciferin analogues thus pave the way to an extended family of bioluminescent reporters.
Project description:The firefly luciferase complementation assay is widely used as a bioluminescent reporter technology to detect protein-protein interactions in vitro, in cellulo, and in vivo. Upon the interaction of a protein pair, complemented firefly luciferase emits light through the adenylation and oxidation of its substrate, luciferin. Although it has been suggested that kinetics of light production in the firefly luciferase complementation assay is different from that in full length luciferase, the mechanism behind this is still not understood. To quantitatively understand the different kinetics and how changes in affinity of a protein pair affect the light emission in the assay, a mathematical model of the in vitro firefly luciferase complementation assay was constructed. Analysis of the model finds that the change in kinetics is caused by rapid dissociation of the protein pair, low adenylation rate of luciferin, and increased affinity of adenylated luciferin to the enzyme. The model suggests that the affinity of the protein pair has an exponential relationship with the light detected in the assay. This relationship causes the change of affinity in a protein pair to be underestimated. This study underlines the importance of understanding the molecular mechanism of the firefly luciferase complementation assay in order to analyze protein pair affinities quantitatively.
Project description:We developed a new approach to bioluminescent T cell imaging using a membrane-anchored form of the Gaussia luciferase (GLuc) enzyme, termed extGLuc, which we could stably express in both mouse and human primary T cells. In vitro, extGLuc+ cells emitted significantly higher bioluminescent signal when compared to cells expressing GLuc, Renilla luciferase (RLuc) or membrane-anchored RLuc (extRLuc). In vivo, mouse extGLuc+ T cells showed higher bioluminescent signal when compared to GLuc+ and RLuc+ T cells. Application of this imaging approach to human T cells genetically modified to express tumor-specific chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) enabled us to show in vivo CAR-mediated T cell accumulation in tumor, T cell persistence over time and concomitant imaging of T cells and tumor cells modified to express firefly luciferase. This sensitive imaging technology has application to many in vivo cell-based studies in a wide array of mouse models.
Project description:In preclinical cancer research, bioluminescence imaging with firefly luciferase and D-luciferin has become a standard to monitor biological processes both in vitro and in vivo. However, the emission maximum (?max) of bioluminescence produced by D-luciferin is 562?nm where light is not highly penetrable in biological tissues. This emphasizes a need for developing a red-shifted bioluminescence imaging system to improve detection sensitivity of targets in deep tissue. Here we characterize the bioluminescent properties of the newly synthesized luciferin analogue, AkaLumine-HCl. The bioluminescence produced by AkaLumine-HCl in reactions with native firefly luciferase is in the near-infrared wavelength ranges (?max=677?nm), and yields significantly increased target-detection sensitivity from deep tissues with maximal signals attained at very low concentrations, as compared with D-luciferin and emerging synthetic luciferin CycLuc1. These characteristics offer a more sensitive and accurate method for non-invasive bioluminescence imaging with native firefly luciferase in various animal models.
Project description:The different colors of light emitted by bioluminescent beetles that use an identical substrate and chemiexcitation reaction sequence to generate light remain a challenging and controversial mechanistic conundrum. The crystal structures of two beetle luciferases with red- and blue-shifted light relative to the green yellow light of the common firefly species provide direct insight into the molecular origin of the bioluminescence color. The structure of a blue-shifted green-emitting luciferase from the firefly Amydetes vivianii is monomeric with a structural fold similar to the previously reported firefly luciferases. The only known naturally red-emitting luciferase from the glow-worm Phrixothrix hirtus exists as tetramers and octamers. Structural and computational analyses reveal varying aperture between the two domains enclosing the active site. Mutagenesis analysis identified two conserved loops that contribute to the color of the emitted light. These results are expected to advance comparative computational studies into the conformational landscape of the luciferase reaction sequence.
Project description:Fireflies and their luminous courtships have inspired centuries of scientific study. Today firefly luciferase is widely used in biotechnology, but the evolutionary origin of bioluminescence within beetles remains unclear. To shed light on this long-standing question, we sequenced the genomes of two firefly species that diverged over 100 million-years-ago: the North American <i>Photinus pyralis</i> and Japanese <i>Aquatica lateralis.</i> To compare bioluminescent origins, we also sequenced the genome of a related click beetle, the Caribbean <i>Ignelater luminosus</i>, with bioluminescent biochemistry near-identical to fireflies, but anatomically unique light organs, suggesting the intriguing hypothesis of parallel gains of bioluminescence. Our analyses support independent gains of bioluminescence in fireflies and click beetles, and provide new insights into the genes, chemical defenses, and symbionts that evolved alongside their luminous lifestyle.