Evidence for de novo Biosynthesis of the Luminous Substrate Coelenterazine in Ctenophores

Manabu Bessho-Uehara, Wentao Huang, Wyatt L. Patry, William E. Browne, Jing Ke Weng, Steven H.D. Haddock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Coelenterazine is a key substrate involved in marine bioluminescence which is used for light-production by at least nine phyla. Some luminous animals, such as the hydromedusa Aequorea, lack the ability to produce coelenterazine endogenously and instead depend on dietary sources. Little is known about the source organisms or the metabolic process of coelenterazine biosynthesis. Here, we present evidence that ctenophores are both producers and suppliers of coelenterazine in marine ecosystems. Using biochemical assays and mass spectrometry analyses, we detected coelenterazine from cultured ctenophores fed with a non-luminous coelenterazine-free diet. We propose that ctenophores are an emerging model organism to study coelenterazine biosynthesis and the origins of bioluminescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101859
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 18 2020


  • Biomolecules
  • Biosynthesis
  • Evolutionary Developmental Biology
  • Evolutionary History

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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