In vitro energy transfer in Renilla bioluminescence

William Ward, Milton J. Cormier

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52 Scopus citations


The in vitro bioluminescent oxidation of Renilla (sea pansy) luciferin by luciferase produces a broad, structureless emission, peaking in the blue at 490 nm. In contrast, the live animal produces a structured emission peaking in the green at 509 nm. This difference in emission characteristics is due to the presence, in Renilla, of a green fluorescent protein (GFP). Addition of GFP in vitro sensitizes the oxyluciferin product excited state, resulting in the narrow, structured green emission characteristic of GFP fluorescence (λmax 509 nm). Under conditions of efficient in vitro energy transfer (2.7 × 10-6 M GFP) the radiative quantum yield (with respect to luciferin) increases 5.7-fold from 5.3% (blue pathway) to 30% (green pathway). The fluorescence quantum yield of the Renilla GFP has been measured as 30%; thus, within the precision of our measurements (15% coefficient of variation) the in vitro energy transfer efficiency is a surprising 100%. We submit this report as the first quantitative study of in vitro energy transfer in a natural biological system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2289-2291
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of physical chemistry
Issue number20
StatePublished - Jan 1 1976
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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