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Comp Biochem Physiol Part D Genomics Proteomics. 2013 Mar;8(1):82-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cbd.2012.12.001. Epub 2012 Dec 8.

A transcriptional survey of the cDNA library of Macrolampis sp2 firefly lanterns (Coleoptera: Lampyridae).

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Graduate Program of Biotechnology and Environmental Monitoring, Campus of Sorocaba, Federal University of São Carlos, Rodovia João Leme dos Santos, Itinga, SP, Brazil.


The biochemistry of firefly bioluminescence is well understood; however, the molecular physiology of the lanterns is still poorly studied, especially the biosynthesis and origin of beetle luciferin which are almost unknown. Using a cDNA library previously constructed from Macrolampis sp2 lanterns, we randomly selected and sequenced 572 cDNAs in order to have a first transcriptional profile of the most represented messages found in the lanterns and therefore to better understand their molecular physiology. As expected, high percentage of the gene products (~22%) displayed high similarity with Coleoptera genome products. About 7% represented mitochondrial genes, including several copies of cytochrome oxidase, which are also expected for this tissue. Luciferase genes were especially abundant, representing ca 2% of the products. Gene products involved with cysteine and sulfur metabolism such as the cystathionine β-lyase and the S-adenosylmethionine synthetase were abundant. Noteworthy, an abundance of proteins involved with hormone metabolism was found, suggesting a possible link between bioluminescence and hormone metabolism.

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