Molecule of the Month: Luciferase
Organisms from fireflies to bacteria use luciferase to emit light
Glow Little Glowworm, Glow
Lighting the Way
Glow in the Dark
For more information on luciferase from a genomics perspective, take a look at the Protein of the Month at the European Bioinformatics Institute.
Exploring the Structure
Wild-type and mutant Japanese firefly luciferase
TThe color of light that is emitted by luciferase is highly dependent on the amino acids that surround the luciferin. PDB entry 2d1s (on the left) is the structure of luciferase from a Japanese firefly. It normally emits a greenish-yellow light. But if you change one amino acid from a serine to an asparagine, the color changes to red, as seen in PDB entry 2d1t (on the right). Surprisingly, this change is a fair distance from the luciferin, and the color change is thought to be caused by slight changes in the packing of amino acids and a change in the flexibility around the luciferin.
Select the JSmol tab to explore these structures in an interactive view.
This JSmol was designed and illustrated by Xinyi Christine Zhang.
June 2006, David Goodsellhttp://doi.org/10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2006_6