Light-producing living organisms are widespread in nature and from diverse origins. The process of light emission from organisms is called bioluminescence and represents a chemical conversion of energy into light. Since the work of William D McElroy showing that ATP is a limiting and key factor of the bioluminescent reaction, research has lead to a better understanding of how light is produced by fireflies (McElroy, 1947; McElroy, 1951; McElroy et al., 1953). The bioluminescence mechanism involving Luciferase enzyme is a multistep process which mainly requires Luciferin substrate, Oxygen (O2), Magnesium cation (Mg++) and ATP (DeLuca & McElroy, 1974; McElroy et al., 1953; Seliger, 1989).
ATPbioluminescence using luciferine/luciferase relies on luciferine oxidation by the luciferase and the integrated light intensity is directly proportional to ATP contents. Luciferase converts in presence of ATP and Magnesium firefly D luciferin into the corresponding enzyme-bound luciferil adenylate. The luciferil adenylate complex is then the substrate of the subsequent oxidative reaction leading to oxyluciferin. The light emission is a consequence of a rapid loss of energy of the oxyluciferine molecule from an excited state to a stable one.
1/ D-luciferin + luciferase + ATP (add Mg+) — Luciferil adenylate complex +PPi 2/ Luciferil adenylate complex (add Oxygen) — Oxyluciferin + AMP+ CO2 + light
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