* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received February 25, 2015; Revision received March 4, 2015
Bioluminescence is a widespread natural phenomenon. Luminous organisms are found among bacteria, fungi, protozoa, coelenterates, worms, molluscs, insects, and fish. Studies on bioluminescent systems of various organisms have revealed an interesting feature – the mechanisms underlying visible light emission are considerably different in representatives of different taxa despite the same final result of this biochemical process. Among the several substrates of bioluminescent reactions identified in marine luminous organisms, the most commonly used are imidazopyrazinone derivatives such as coelenterazine and Cypridina luciferin. Although the substrate used is the same, bioluminescent proteins that catalyze light emitting reactions in taxonomically remote luminous organisms do not show similarity either in amino acid sequences or in spatial structures. In this review, we consider luciferases of various luminous organisms that use coelenterazine or Cypridina luciferin as a substrate, as well as modifications of these proteins that improve their physicochemical and bioluminescent properties and therefore their applicability in bioluminescence imaging in vivo.
KEY WORDS: bioluminescence, luciferase, luciferin, coelenterazine