Illuminating Cellular Physiology: Recent Developments

By Brovko, Lubov Y.; Griffiths, Mansel W. | Science Progress, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Illuminating Cellular Physiology: Recent Developments


Brovko, Lubov Y., Griffiths, Mansel W., Science Progress


ABSTRACT

Bioluminescent methods are gaining more and more attention among scientists due to their sensitivity, selectivity and simplicity; coupled with the fact that the bioluminescence can be monitored both in vitro and in vivo. Since the discovery of bioluminescence in the 19th century, enzymes involved in the bioluminescent process have been isolated and cloned. The bioluminescent reactions in several different organisms have also been fully characterized and used as reporters in a wide variety of biochemical assays. From the 1990s it became clear that bioluminescence can be detected and quantified directly from inside a living cell. This gave rise to numerous possibilities for the in vivo monitoring of intracellular processes noninvasively using bioluminescent molecules as reporters. This review describes recent developments in the area of bioluminescent imaging for cell biology. Newly developed imaging methods allow transcriptional/translational regulation, signal transduction, protein-protein interaction, oncogenic transformation, cell and protein trafficking, and target drug action to be monitored in vivo in real-time with high temporal and spatial resolution; thus providing researchers with priceless information on cellular functions. Advantages and limitations of these novel bioluminescent methods are discussed and possible future developments identified.

Keywords: cellular physiology, bioluminescent imaging

Overview of bioluminescence

Bioluminescence, that is the production of light by living organisms, is a result of enzymatic oxidative reactions. Enzymes that catalyze these reactions are called luciferases and their respective substrates are referred to as luciferins.

Mysteries surrounding this beautiful natural phenomenon attracted the attention of scientists thousands of years ago (1). As far back as 350 BC, the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, wrote about the strange phenomenon that sometimes was seen when "you strike the seas with a rod by night and the water seems to shine". He was, in fact, observing bioluminescence. However, it was not until the 19th century that the French scientist Raphael Dubois proved that light emission from the bioluminescent crustacean Cypridina was the result of metabolic processes in living cells that needed oxygen and two other components, one of which was thermo-stable and the other was thermo-labile. Later these substances were isolated, characterized and named luciferin and luciferase, respectively. Though the biological function of the luciferin-luciferase reaction is the same for all bioluminescent systems, viz. to produce light, the molecular structures of luciferins and luciferases from different organisms are different.

Several bioluminescent systems of different organisms have been fully characterized in terms of component structure and reaction mechanisms. These include the luciferin-luciferase system of bacteria, insects (fireflies and click-beetles) and the jellyfish Aequorea victoria (2). A schematic representation of the reaction mechanisms for these bioluminescent systems is presented in Figure 1.

A major advantage of using bioluminescent systems as analytical tools is that extremely low levels of enzyme activity can be detected by measuring the emitted light. Modern instruments are capable of detecting single photons with both temporal and spatial distribution; thus providing accurate information on the location and intensity of the light source. Another feature of bioluminescent systems that makes them an excellent investigative tool is an almost absolute specificity for their substrates. For example, for firefly luciferase even minor changes in the structure of ATP and firefly luciferin result in a total loss of enzyme activity and this consequently results in a loss of light emission. This specificity for substrates allows the real-time measurement of luciferase activity in situ in very complex samples without the need for any pretreatment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Illuminating Cellular Physiology: Recent Developments
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.