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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The enzymology and molecular biology of the Ca2+-activated photoprotein, aequorin.

Aequorin is a bioluminescent protein, isolated from the hydromedusan Aequorea victoria. A recombinant cDNA plasmid (pAEQ1) was shown to encode apoaequorin by detecting photoprotein activity in an extract of an E. coli strain containing pAEQ1 (Prasher et al., 1986, Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 126, 1259-1268). The nucleotide sequence of the pAEQ1 insert has been determined and is shown to differ significantly from the aequorin cDNA (AQ440) isolated by Inouye et al. (1985, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 82, 3154-3158). Comparisons of the coding regions of the two cDNAs show there are 52 nucleotide differences, 19 of which are responsible for 18 amino acid replacements. These differences explain the microheterogeneity observed at 17 positions during the sequencing of native apoaequorin. Five aequorin isotypes extracted from Aequorea tissue are observed on 2-dimensional gels and the E. coli-expressed apoaequorin is shown to co-migrate with one of these isotypes. The multiple isotypes could be caused by the presence of a multi-gene family since Southern blot analysis of Aequorea DNA suggests the presence of a minimum of four aequorin genes. Immunoblot analysis suggests that purified native aequorin is proteolytically cleaved during its purification from Aequorea. Comparison of the deduced cDNA translations and the protein sequence suggests the loss of seven residues from the amino terminal. Overexpression of the apoaequorin cDNA in E. coli now provides the means of obtaining gram quantities of a single isotype of the protein which can be converted to aequorin in the presence of coelenterate luciferin, oxygen and an appropriate thiol. Proper extraction procedures and a single chromatographic step provides apoaequorin which is greater than 95% homogeneous.[1]


  1. The enzymology and molecular biology of the Ca2+-activated photoprotein, aequorin. Cormier, M.J., Prasher, D.C., Longiaru, M., McCann, R.O. Photochem. Photobiol. (1989) [Pubmed]
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