Cloning and Characterization of Luciferase from a Fijian Luminous Click Beetle


Corresponding author email: (Yasuo Mitani)


Luminous click beetle is distributed almost exclusively in Central and South America with a single genus in Melanesia. Among these click beetles, the description of Melanesian species has been fragmentary, and its luciferase gene and phylogenetic relation to other click beetles still remain uncertain. We collected a living luminous click beetle, Photophorus jansonii in Fiji. It emits green-yellow light from two spots on the pronotum and has no ventral luminous organ. Here, we cloned a luciferase gene from this insect by RT-PCR. The deduced amino acid sequence showed high identity of ~85% to the luciferases derived from other click beetle species. The luciferase of the Fijian click beetle was produced as a recombinant protein to characterize its biochemical properties. The Km for d-luciferin and ATP were 173 and 270 μm, respectively. The luciferase was pH-insensitive and the spectrum measured at pH 8.0 showed a peak at 559 nm, which was in the range of green-yellow light as seen in the luminous spot of the living Fijian click beetle. The Fijian click beetle luciferase was assigned to the Elateridae clade by a phylogenetic analysis, but it made a clearly different branch from Pyrophorus group examined in this study.