A Photinus pyralis and Luciola italica Chimeric Firefly Luciferase Produces Enhanced Bioluminescence

We report the enhanced bioluminescence properties of a chimeric enzyme (PpyLit) that contains the N-domain of recombinant Photinus pyralis luciferase joined to the C-domain of recombinant Luciola italica luciferase. Compared to the P. pyralis enzyme, the novel PpyLit chimera exhibited 1.8-fold enhanced flash-height specific activity, 2.0-fold enhanced integration-based specific activity, 2.9-fold enhanced catalytic efficiency (kcat/Km), and a 1.4-fold greater bioluminescence quantum yield. The results of this study provide an underlying basis of this unusual example of a chimeric enzyme with enhanced catalytic properties that are not simply the sum of the contributions of the two luciferases.