Aequorin and obelin are photoproteins whose calcium controlled bioluminescent light emission is used for labeling in assays, for the determination of calcium concentrations in vivo, and as a reporter in cellular imaging. Both of these photoproteins emit blue light from a 2- hydroperoxycoelenterazine chromophore, which is non-covalently bound in the hydrophobic core of the proteins. In an effort to produce aequorin and obelin variants with improved analytical properties, such as alternative emission colors and altered decay kinetics, seven mutants of aequorin and obelin were prepared and combined with 10 different coelenterazine analogs. These semi-synthetic photoprotein mutants exhibited shifts in bioluminescent properties when compared with wild-type proteins. The bioluminescent parameters determined for these semi-synthetic photoprotein mutants included specific activity, emission spectra and decay half-life time. This spectral tuning strategy resulted in semi-synthetic photoprotein mutants that had significantly altered bioluminescent properties. The largest emission maxima shift obtained was 44 nm, and the largest decay half-life difference was 23.91 s.
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