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IUPAC name
Other names
Coelenterazine, Renilla luciferin
55779-48-1 N
ChemSpider 2728 YesY
Jmol-3D images Image
PubChem 2830
Molar mass 423.463
Appearance orange-yellow crystals
Melting point 175 to 178 °C (347 to 352 °F; 448 to 451 K)
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Infobox references

Coelenterazine is the luciferin, the light-emitting molecule, found in many aquatic organisms across seven phyla.[1] It is the substrate of many luciferases such as Renilla reniformis luciferase (Rluc), Gaussia luciferase (Gluc), and photoproteins, including aequorin, and obelin.


Coelenterazine was simultaneously isolated and characterized by two groups studying the luminescent organisms sea pansy (Renilla reniformis) and the coelenterate Aequorea victoria, respectively.[2][3] Both groups unknowingly discovered that the same compound was used in both luminescent systems, however the name of the molecule was given after the coelenterate. Likewise, the two main metabolites - coelenteramide and coelenteramine - were named after their respective functional groups. Despite being first discovered in Aequorea victoria, it was later shown that they do not synthesize coelenterazine, rather they obtain it through their diet, largely from crustaceans and copepods.[4]


Coelenterazine is widely found in marine organisms including:

The compound has also been isolated from organisms that are not luminescent, such as the Atlantic herring and several shrimp species including Pandalus borealis and Pandalus platyuros.


Coelenterazine can be crystallized into orange-yellow crystals. The molecule absorbs light in the ultraviolet and visible spectrum, with peak absorption at 435 nm in methanol, giving the molecule a yellow color. The molecule spontaneously oxidizes in aerobic conditions or in some organic solvents such as dimethylformamide and DMSO and is preferentially stored in methanol or with an inert gas.


  1. ^ Shimomura, O. (2006). Bioluminescence: Chemical Principles and Methods. World Scientific Publishing. pp. 159–165. ISBN 978-981-256-801-4. 
  2. ^ Hori K, Charbonneau H, Hart RC, and Cormier MJ (1977). "Structure of native Renilla reinformis luciferin". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 74 (10): 4285–4287. doi:10.1073/pnas.74.10.4285. PMC 431924. PMID 16592444. 
  3. ^ Shimomura O, Johnson FH (1975). "Chemical nature of bioluminescence systems in coelenterates". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 72 (4): 1546–1549. doi:10.1073/pnas.72.4.1546. PMC 432574. PMID 236561. 
  4. ^ Haddock, SH, Rivers, TJ, Robison, BH (2001). "Can coelenterates make coelenterazine? Dietary requirement for luciferin in cnidarian bioluminescence". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98 (20): 11148–51. doi:10.1073/pnas.201329798. PMID 11572972. 
  5. ^ Haddock SHD, Case JF (1994). "A bioluminescent chaetognath" (PDF). Nature 367 (6460): 225–226. doi:10.1038/367225a0. 

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