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Coelenterazine (CTZ)-utilizing marine luciferases and their derivatives have attracted significant attention because of their ATP-independency, fast enzymatic turnover, and high bioluminescence brightness. However, marine luciferases typically emit blue photons and their substrates, including CTZ and the recently developed diphenylterazine (DTZ), have poor water solubility, hindering their in vivo applications. Herein, we report a family of pyridyl CTZ and DTZ analogs that exhibit spectrally shifted emission and improved water solubility. Through directed evolution, we engineered a LumiLuc luciferase with broad substrate specificity. In the presence of corresponding pyridyl substrates (i.e., pyCTZ, 6pyDTZ, or 8pyDTZ), LumiLuc generates highly bright blue, teal, or yellow biolumines-cence. We compared our LumiLuc-8pyDTZ pair with several benchmark reporters in a tumor xenograft mouse model. Our new pair, which does not need organic cosolvents for in vivo administration, surpasses other reporters by detecting early tumors. We further fused LumiLuc to a red fluorescent protein, resulting in a LumiScarlet reporter with further red-shifted emission and enhanced tissue penetration. LumiScarlet-8pyDTZ was comparable to Akaluc-AkaLumine, the brightest ATP-dependent luciferase-luciferin pair, for detecting cells in deep tissues of mice. In summary, we have engineered a new family of ATP-independent bioluminescent reporters, which will have broad applications because of their ATP-independency, excellent biocompatibility, and superior in vivo sensitivity.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: ACS chemical biology
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Using certified ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS technology to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce HEALTHCARE DISPARITIES; engage patients and families in their health care; improve care coordination; improve population and public health; while maintaining privacy and security.