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Firefly glow: Berkeley Lab scientists develop a hydrogen peroxide probe based on firefly luciferin
Date:2/11/2011

A unique new probe based on luciferase, the enzyme that gives fireflies their glow, enables researchers to monitor hydrogen peroxide levels in mice and thereby track the progression of infectious diseases or cancerous tumors without harming the animals or even having to shave their fur. Developed by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, this new bioluminescent probe has already provided the first direct experimental evidence that hydrogen peroxide is continuously made even in a healthy animal.

"We are reporting the design, synthesis, and in vivo applications of Peroxy Caged Luciferin-1 (PCL-1), a chemoselective bioluminescent probe for the real-time detection of hydrogen peroxide within living animals," says Christopher Chang, a chemist who holds appointments with Berkeley Lab's Chemical Sciences Division and UC Berkeley's Chemistry Department, as well as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Chang is the corresponding author of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) that describes this research. The paper is titled "In vivo imaging of hydrogen peroxide production in a murine tumor model with a chemoselective bioluminescent reporter." Co-authoring with Chang were Genevieve Van de Bittner, Elena Dubikovskaya and Carolyn Bertozzi.

The PCL-1 probe consists of a light-emitting luciferin molecule enclosed inside a molecular cage of boronic acid. The boronic acid selectively reacts with hydrogen peroxide molecules to release the luciferin, triggering a bioluminescent response in the presence of firefly luciferase. For their studies, Chang and his co-authors worked with transgenic mice that carried the firefly luciferase gene.

"The high sensitivity and selectivity of the PCL-1 probe for hydrogen peroxide, combined with the favorable properties of bioluminescence for in vivo imaging, afford a unique technology
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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